Business is busy at New England Copper Works.
Susanne Juaire, who runs the Smithfield manufacturing company, launched in 2001, with her husband, Bill, said the last three years have been their best despite a still-slow recovery nationwide from the 2008-2009 economic downturn.
Revenue is up and the workload, at times, has led the small-business owners to think of hiring additional staff.
But they haven’t done that yet.
“It would have been nice to hire someone last year, but we’ll just ride it out as much as we can,” she said. “It’s tough even though it’s looking really well, because we don’t have a crystal ball.”
The Juaires’ approach is one of what business trend watchers call cautious optimism. They’re happy to report increased sales but they’re not confident enough to count on the good times lasting to take on new hires.
In a recent survey from Constant Contact, a Waltham, Mass.-based email marketing-services firm, 59 percent of small businesses reported they have seen revenue increase this year.
But 66 percent of respondents said they are not planning to hire any full-time employees within the next six months. In Rhode Island, where the unemployment rate is still hovering close to 11 percent, that’s not great news.
“It’s sort of continued, not-so-good news on the hiring front, which is disappointing,” said Joel Hughes, Constant senior vice president for strategy and corporate development. “Small businesses are trying to do the same thing as people, which is to make sure [they are] healthy through what continues to be a very difficult recovery.”
The Constant Contact Spring 2012 Small Business Pulse Survey asked 1,000 small businesses and nonprofits across a range of industries from its customer-based research panel about their top operating concerns.
Of the 728 businesses that responded, 74 percent have between zero and 10 employees.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said they haven’t hired any new employees so far this year and 50 percent said they have kept payroll the same.