Carrollwood business owners say there will be no shortage of jobs to start the new year — and they'd like to see more job-seekers walk through their doors.
Employment and hiring trends in Carrollwood appear to mirror the recent reports from the Labor Department showing national unemployment rates have fallen to the lowest levels since 2008.
Lea Orchard, the owner of three Great Clips hair salons and the president of the Carrollwood Area Business Association , said many of the small business owners in Carrollwood are searching for qualified employees.
"I know there are a lot of people looking for employees — it's not necessarily college-educated," she said. "We need skill laborers. They are just hard to find. You would think there would be so many. We are just not finding them."
Orchard has been a member of CABA for seven years. She said hair stylists need to be licensed, which limits the pool of qualified applicants. Some hair students are lured away by other college or vocational programs paid through government grants.
"For me, it's hard to get them to come in," Orchard said. "I would hire four people right now if I had them. I have girls working overtime and 12-hour shifts because I can't find anyone."
Orchard and other business owners are not just worried about a shortage of reliable workers. They are also stressed about the other financial challenges in the new year. If her taxes go up, Orchard said she will have to think twice about reinvesting in her business or even opening stores.
"I worry about the cost of health insurance," she said. "I do pay half the premiums now for my full-time girls. I've been doing that for 10 years. If it gets too expensive, you really have to think about it. I have a family to support, too. It's a scary time for business owners."
Maria Patterson, the executive director of CABA, said business owners who join CABA have the power of networking, which some say is the best defense against uncertain times. Members share their ideas for handling anything from higher taxes and health insurance costs to a shortage of qualified employees.
"I hear of companies hiring," Patterson said, adding most of the business in Carrollwood are small- to medium-sized businesses.
Patterson said she expects 2013 will be a positive year for both businesses and job seekers.
Although the Affordable Care Act has some people worried, it will primarily affect companies with 50 or more employees, Patterson said.
"It will affect some. I don't believe it will affect the majority," she said.
Reflecting back on this past year, Patterson said she is proud of the November membership drive which boosted the size of CABA.
"We had quite a bit of success in 2012," she said. "We held a membership drive and gained 88 new members. We have a total of 360 members right now."
Patterson said she is confident that members of CABA will pull through any economic rough patches together.
"I think the value of CABA is what ultimately they join for — networking, especially to boost their business starting the first of the year in 2013," Patterson said. "Tampa is such a network-heavy city and they know they need to make connections and get referrals."