A record number of middle-market businesses are planning to hire more employees in the coming months despite ongoing shortages in the labor market.
New data from a joint study published by tax and consultancy firm RSM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicates that entrepreneurs are buoying the labor market even as they face challenges in talent acquisition and meeting employee expectations. In a survey of roughly 1,500 business owners, 66% said they planned to ramp up hiring efforts over the next six months, even though 97% expect work shortages to pose challenges throughout 2024.
Despite concerns that tools such as artificial intelligence could negatively impact the labor market by displacing jobs, companies adopting these resources appear to be more focused on boosting productivity than lowering payroll expenses. A majority of respondents to the RSM and Chamber survey planning to leverage new technologies in 2024 said their primary goal was to boost efficiency and worker output. More than half (57%) of all business owners expressed interest in adopting automation or IT solutions.
The labor market has continued to outperform expectations, with early reports for January reflecting a substantial increase in employment. These gains seem to conflict with anxieties regarding a recession and an ongoing worker shortage. However, while business owners feel mostly pessimistic about the status of inflation and interest rates, they continue to express optimism toward their own enterprises and a desire to hire more employees, unwittingly helping the very economy in which they lack confidence.