Small businesses are hiring more workers - but it isn't always leading to more growth

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New figures from QuickBooks have revealed a positive trend among small businesses in the UK, which look to be experiencing some much-needed financial freedom to employ more workers.

The study of more than 25,000 small businesses (and QuickBooks customers) with between one and nine employees found that there are now 132,300 job vacancies across the UK in this sector, down 5,800 from December and around 30,000 from January 2023.

Highlighted in the study is that 12 of the 13 sectors analyzed had fewer job vacancies, signalling that roles are now being filled more quickly than before.

UK SMBs still aren’t growing

QuickBooks also considered regional differences, ultimately finding that Scottish small businesses saw the biggest percentage decrease in job vacancies.

Despite reduced vacancies, the monthly decrease last month was down by more than 4% compared with the previous official benchmark. A series of peaks and troughs have seen fairly significant fluctuation, but in the longer term, SMB growth rates look to be on a downward trend.

Education was the only sector that saw growth, but only by a measly 0.08%. On the contrary, finance and insurance businesses averaged a decrease of 9.75%.

In comparison with other regions, the UK’s decreasing number of vacancies looks to be good news. For example, the US saw several states battling with rising vacancies as SMBs struggled to fill roles.

However, the UK continues to have more vacancies than it did prior to the pandemic. After figures plummeted when companies looked to hire more workers to boost productivity, most of 2022 as well as parts of 2021 and 2023 saw vacancies reach considerable heights, thanks to the pandemic’s knock-on effects on the economy.

Thankfully, though considerably high, small business job vacancies have been trickling generally downward for much of 2023 in a positive sign of the times ahead. So while businesses aren’t yet growing at the rates that they might have hoped, they do at least look to be equipping themselves with more workers.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!