Australia's SMEs are still positive about the economy with plans to hire more workers

Photo: Getty / Spencer Platt (File)

At least 23% of Australian SMEs are planning on giving employees a pay rise this year while another 25% plan to increase their workforce.

That’s the positive message from the MYOB Business Monitor, in its series of bi-annual surveys of 1000 Australian small businesses.

It’s clearly a competitive marketplace with 32% of respondents saying attracting customers is “quite likely or extremely likely to put pressure on their businesses”. A further 35% said attracting customers would put some pressure on business.

That’s interesting in the context of explaining why Australian businesses are still hunkered down and not investing.

It’s tough to get customers. So it’s good news that any of the businesses see the outlook as positive enough to hire new staff, let alone 25% of them.

MYOB CEO Tim Reed said:

“The planned salary increases and the intention to grow staff numbers demonstrates the resilience of the nation’s SMEs. Their optimism to work through uncertainty and plans for future growth is encouraging.”

Reed highlighted that “younger business owners” are more optimistic than average and “anticipate the economy to improve within a year”.

“This is in contrast to the overall results where more than half of the businesses surveyed expect an economic upswing to take more than 12 months to kick in,” he said.

Business Insider was interested in what the other 75% of SMEs were planning with their workforces.

MYOB told us that:

69% of respondents say the number of full time employees in their business will stay the same over the next 12 months, 63% of respondents say the number of part time or casual employees in their business will stay the same over the next 12 months.

That’s good news because rising unemployment where people are losing jobs leads to very different economic outcomes than rising unemployment because employment growth can’t keep up with the growth in the workforce.

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