April 10 - Small business owners -- a key jobs driver -- are more pessimistic about the economy, and are planning fewer new hires according to a new survey. Bobbi Rebell reports.
JLC Environmental Consultants had to slim down in order to survive the recession - downsizing from 8,000 square feet- to the current 2,000- and taking out loans to keep the company going. Business had seemed to gain some traction over the last year and half- until everything more of less just stopped, says President Jennifer Carey. SOUNDBITE: JENNIFER CAREY, PRESIDENT, JLC ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANTS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "In January and February we did have probably our worst months on record since our inception of our company." REPORTER STAND-UP: BOBBI REBELL, REUTERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The workforce situation here at JLC Environmental is not unusual for a small business that has survived the recession. From a peak of 50 workers down to 25- and when business slumped recently the remaining workers had to take a temporary pay cut." It's no wonder a new survey from The National Federation of Independent Business found small business confidence fell for the first time in six months in March. Small businesses are worried about sales, profits, rising prices and their chances of accessing credit. Those growing concerns eclipsed hopes of improvement from earlier this year, which for many never materialized. NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg: SOUNDBITE: BILL DUNKELBERG, CHIEF ECONOMIST, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think the thing that happened was that nothing happened. That is, we didn't really resolve the uncertainty. Everything is kind of quiet in Europe and yet I don't think we really believe that that situation is straightened out and then of course we keep seeing our debt piling up." The Thomson Reuters PayNet Small Business Lending index showed lending recently slowed to small businesses- because borrowers are not confident enough to take on new debt. That could have broad implications, warns PayNet President BIll Phelan. SOUNDBITE: BILL PHELAN, PRESIDENT, PAYNET (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The small business lending index is a really good leading economic indicator of future GDP and as small business goes so goes GDP in the U.S." JLC environmental is regrouping - and looking for ways to grow: SOUNDBITE: JENNIFER CAREY, PRESIDENT, JLC ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTANTS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We are actually looking at new revenue streams, like we are adding some services in our laboratory testing side we also added some courses that we did not teach before." Spoken like a business veteran determined to beat the environment. Bobbi Rebell, Reuters.