check The Annual Family Business Survey, conducted by the nonprofit Family Enterprise USA (FEUSA), has determined that, despite the slow economy, most family-owned firms are optimistic about the hiring and retaining of employees. The survey, a poll of 300 executives from as many family companies from a variety of industries, showed that 54 percent of survey respondents intend to hire employees over the next year, while just 8 percent indicated that their workforce would be reduced.

While about half of the polled executives reported flat or decreased revenues due to economic factors, only about one-third have lain off workers. The survey also indicated that the majority of family-owned firms are not interested in special tax breaks or stimulus funds. In fact, according to 44 percent of respondents, the greatest obstacle to job growth is confusion over government regulations and tax code.

The top issue faced by the surveyed firms (65 percent) was estate tax and the regulatory issues that surround it. The second highest priority issue was the elimination of loopholes in the tax code. About 60 percent of firms are concerned with the new healthcare law and the resulting increases in premiums that lead more difficulty in paying for insurance plans.

Regarding the importance of family-owned businesses, FEUSA President Ann Kinkade said, “Because of their focus on long-term, sustainable growth, family owned businesses are committed to their employees and communities over time. Family firms have leadership tenure four to five times longer than shareholder-controlled businesses. They also have greater workforce stability and are more likely to hire and retain employees in the face of a tough economy.”

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