Now hiring: America’s family businesses | submitted by Ann Kinkade

For the first time since November 2008, the U.S. has seen two consecutive months where the number of job openings has been at or above 3 million. Even in light of a slight uptick in the April unemployment rate, these are promising statistics, and according to a new survey completed by Family Enterprise USA, family business owners are a major contributor to this positive news.

As part of its Annual Family Business Survey, FEUSA asked family business owners in the U.S. about their likelihood of hiring and retaining employees in the next 12 months. Fifty-two percent of respondents plan to add additional employees, and 42% intend to keep their current staff numbers despite an overall sluggish recovery. These are encouraging statistics, and support FEUSA’s assertion that family businesses are the backbone of our economy.

These figures lend even more credibility to research that shows family businesses are less likely to lay off employees. Overall, business-owning families are more concerned about long-term sustainability than short-term gains. This type of thinking is part of the reason why family businesses will likely lead our nation’s economic recovery.

Unfortunately, this information has yet to infiltrate the halls of Congress. FEUSA was formed because family-owned businesses have been misrepresented, misunderstood, and overlooked by many of our nation’s key decision-makers. Policies are in place that clearly create different standards for doing business based on the fact that the owners, and in some cases their employees, are related to one another.

For example, the new small business tax credit for the payment of employee health insurance premiums and the new $1,000 hiring credit both specifically carve out the inclusion of employees related to the owner(s). Policies that purposely exclude family in business should have no place in our already complex system of business laws and regulations.

We need to incentivize the continuation of our family-owned businesses, not put policies in place that could contribute to their demise. We can only imagine a world where family businesses are allowed to operate up to their full potential, and we hope that through FEUSA’s efforts, we’ll be able to get closer to that vision by positively impacting the current decision-making process that leads to a business-owning family being held to a different standard.

Ann Kinkade is president of Family Enterprise USA, a nonprofit membership organization representing the nation’s small businesses.

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