Nearly two-thirds of accounting professionals in a new poll believe the Affordable Care Act will make it less likely for businesses to hire new employees in the next year.

The survey, by the financial information company Sageworks, polled 300 accounting professionals who work closely with private companies. It found that 66 percent of them expect the new health care changes will make it less likely that businesses will add new employees in the next year.

[IMGCAP(1)]Only 2 percent of the survey respondents said the Affordable Care Act makes it “more likely” that businesses will add new employees. The survey was conducted between June 25 and July 16, so it occurred in the period both immediately before and after the Obama administration announced a delay on July 2 in the so-called “employer mandate,” also known as the employer shared responsibility requirement, for helping employees who claim tax credits to afford the cost of coverage from the upcoming health insurance marketplaces (see Obama Administration Delays Employer Mandate for Affordable Care Act).

“Private companies are performing well, but they’re simply not hiring with the same volume and consistency that we’d expect from them at this point in the economic recovery,” said Sageworks chairman Brian Hamilton. “The recent delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the uncertainty that accompanies such a delay, won’t help the employment situation. Private businesses are trying to map out their hiring and investment plans for the next twelve months, and a last-minute delay like this will increase the likelihood that companies remain on the fence about hiring.”

Separately, Sageworks asked more generally about the hiring picture for CPAs’ business clients, and the outlook seems less optimistic than it was in March (see Private Companies Reluctant to Expand Hiring This Year). More than 60 percent of respondents in the latest survey said that businesses are planning to maintain their current number of employees over the next 12 months.

[IMGCAP(2)]

[IMGCAP(3)]