Many small-business owners are looking forward to hiring, but are challenged by an unavailability of qualified workers and new health care legislation. Almost one-third plan to hire more workers in the 12 months, yet, nearly half of owners see a shortage of talent in the labor pool, according to the latest Small Business Owner Report from Bank of America.

Owners desire candidates who are knowledgeable about the industry and posses necessary skills to expand the business. Such employees, however, can be difficult to find and a challenge to retain: 92 percent of owners said they take some form of action to keep talent on board, with increased salaries, flexible arrangements and bonuses being the top strategies.

Some plans for hiring, however, have been hampered by health care legislation. Over a third of small-business owners said their hiring plans have been affected by the reform, with 26 percent planning to hire part-time, freelancers or contract workers instead of permanent full-time employees. Nine percent are ditching their hiring plans altogether. Overall, 77 percent of small-business owners cited health care costs as significant concern for the 12 months ahead.

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