02/08/2012 02:12 pm ET

Small-Business Hiring Plans Hit Four-Year High

Twenty-two percent of small-business owners plan on increasing the total number of jobs at their company in the next year, according to a new Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index poll.

The rate is the highest since January 2008, when hiring intentions were 15 percent. Alternately, only 8 percent of owners said they had no intentions of hiring more employees in the next 12 months.

The latest poll results are looking up from last year's results, in which 22 percent of owners decreased the number of jobs at their company, while 13 percent reported an increase. Since the beginning of the economic collapse in 2008, small-business hiring vs. job growth has been negative, even when owners have expressed positive intentions.

For those business owners who intended to hire, 26 percent said they would hire full-time workers, while an overwhelming 72 percent indicated they would prefer to hire temporary, contract or part-time workers. These hiring intentions have remained the same among business owners since January 2008.

While small-business owners have overall positive intentions for hiring, 53 percent claim it has been difficult to find qualified employees to fill open positions, with 21 percent noting it has a negative impact on their business. If owners indeed push to increase hiring, they may find it even more difficult to fill vacant positions.