As large businesses continue to shed workers, small businesses are feeling more encouraged to hire, especially with recently passed tax incentives.

According to a survey by Manta, a Web site aimed at small businesses, more than half (58 percent) of small business owners believe that tax incentives for small businesses will help boost the economy.

In addition, 52 percent of small business owners believe these tax breaks are likely to help their individual businesses. The HIRE Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on March 18, exempts businesses from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax until December 2010 if they hire people who have been unemployed for 60 days or more. It also offers employers a $1,000 credit if new hires stay with the company for a year. In total, the new law includes nearly $18 billion in tax breaks.

Manta surveyed 556 small business owners who all run companies with 100 employees or fewer, seeking opinions on the original proposal, which was a $5,000 tax break for hiring new people. It found that 57 percent would consider hiring new employees if they could benefit from the tax break. Almost half of these owners, 25 percent of the total respondents, are definitely planning to hire because of the tax incentives.

Of those that plan to hire, 58 percent will hire new employees in the areas of sales or operations, whereas only 1 percent will hire for senior management positions. These plans indicate that small businesses are gaining confidence when it comes to pursuing prospective customers and growing their organizations. 

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