NEW YORK - Business has picked up. Yet American companies are too nervous to step up hiring.
"If you're anxious, you sit on your hands," said Chad Moutray, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers.
Here's a look at why some individual employers remain hesitant to hire:
For many companies that build highways, hiring plans are on hold while Congress debates long-term plans to pay for construction projects.
"I've got paving crews that are ready, willing to go to work next week, but I don't have contracts that I can have them go to work on," said Ed Dalrymple, vice president of Chemung Contracting Corp., based in Elmira, NY. The company operates gravel quarries, and does highway and runway paving.
Jason Speer is nervously watching Congress and possible tax changes as Bush-era income tax cuts near expiration at year's end. He's a vice president of Quality Float Works of Schaumberg, Ill., which makes devices to monitor fluid levels in tanks. Sales in the United States, the Middle East and South Asia have been strong, he says.
Speer says he'd feel a lot better about hiring later this year if it weren't for the uncertainty about federal taxes. Unable to anticipate his costs, Speer says he can't make decisions about growth and hiring. "We don't know if there's something around the corner that's going to hurt our business," Speer says.