SFA Jobs Sentiment Survey First Quarter

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

- 65% of small firms will retain employee numbers in 2013 while 11% will reduce employee figures

- 1 in 4 small firms hope to increase employee numbers in 2013

“Tackling unemployment is undoubtedly a key challenge facing Ireland, and this needs to be reflected in the measures to support SMEs. The small business sector is the engine of the economy and it is vital that Government does not undermine its ability to drive growth and create jobs.", Avine McNally, Acting Director, Small Firms Association.

The Small Firms Association (SFA) first quarterly 2013 Jobs Sentiment Survey indicates a stabilisation of changes to employee numbers within small firms, however, retaining and creating employment remains a challenge.

SFA Acting Director, Avine McNally stated, “The recent figures from the CSO Household Survey shows that there is stabilisation in the labour market and more encouragingly employment increased in the private sector in 2012. This survey shows that almost 1 in 4 (24%) hope to increase employee numbers in 2013, while over the next three months 12% will be recruiting permanent positions.”

“While the figures are positive, 11% of firms will reduce employee numbers in 2013 as business costs and weak consumer demand remain challenges for many firms.”

The survey was conducted during February and a total of 607 companies employing 16,542 people responded. The sample was drawn from manufacturing, distribution, retail and services sectors and from a regionally representative sample.

In companies where employee numbers increased in 2012, some 41% of companies expect a further increase in employee numbers, while 16% of those companies that decreased their employee figures in 2012 expect further reductions.

Commenting on the survey McNally said, “although stabilising, there are still job losses occurring in the labour intensive sectors mainly construction and manufacturing. However, other sectors such as services and hospitality, are showing signs of recovery and while this will generate employment, this job creation may be fragile until there is a restoration of costs and greater confidence restored to the economy.”

The survey shows the level of lay offs and reduction in employee hours has slowed, which maybe a reflection of the actions taken by small firms to reduce costs and retain employment.

The survey highlights that firms will continue to implement workplace actions to ensure job retention and these include new product/services development (49%) and process improvement (53%), “these initiatives show the adaptability and commitment of employees in small firms to work with management to ensure jobs are sustained.” added McNally.

“Tackling unemployment is undoubtedly a key challenge facing Ireland, and this needs to be reflected in the measures to support SMEs. However, if both Government and agencies are forthright in their ambition to create jobs then they must do everything to reduce the cost of employment in 2013. When employment costs rise small firms are less likely to take on new staff. The small business sector is the engine of the economy and it is vital that Government does not undermine its ability to drive growth and create jobs,” McNally concluded.

Ends.
For further information, please contact: Avine McNally, Acting Director, SFA at:
Tel: 087 6450205.
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