How does your employer celebrate the holidays? Over the last 5 years, many employers that wanted to be generous could not; they were just trying to survive.

Of course, many businesses didn't survive. As so often happens in capitalism, the businesses that did survive ended up stronger. Many are doing better and facing the future with a real sense of confidence and optimism.

You see that particularly with small businesses. After years of pessimism, they're feeling optimistic. A new survey from American Express is particularly telling.

AmEx defined "small business" as operations that have 100 or fewer employees. Among that sampling, they found that on average, the small businesses they asked are:
 

  • Giving a 9% bonus to employees. (More than a third are giving bonuses, which is up from a quarter last year.)
  • Four in 10 are throwing holiday parties. That's up from roughly a third last year.
  • More than half are giving gifts to their customers, which is a big increase from before.
  • Half of the companies surveyed are giving workers some paid time off during the holidays.


Think about how odd this is: Big companies were generally doing fine during the recession, though their employees weren't. Now the big companies are singing the blues, small businesses are doing better, and consumers are showing the highest level of confidence they have in a long time.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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