More than half of the nation's small businesses did not provide health or retirement benefits last year, a survey conducted by Dun & Bradstreet found.
In addition, at least half did not provide paid vacations, holidays or sick days. The survey, commissioned by Entrepreneur magazine for its July issue, randomly surveyed 503 businesses, nearly all with 25 or fewer employees.
Larry Winters, assistant vice president of small-business services at Dun & Bradstreet, said the numbers reflect the high cost of benefits packages, especially health care. Small-business owners attempting to find employees in the tightest labor market in 30 years may also be luring prospects with higher wages in lieu of less pay plus a benefits package, he said.
The survey found that:
* 81% of small businesses offered no retirement benefits;
* 64% had no pay for sick days;
* 61% offered no health benefits;
* 54% had no holiday pay;
* 50% had no vacation pay.
In some categories, the figures were 7 percentage points or more higher than for last year. For example, only 54% of small businesses in 1996 failed to offer health benefits and 72% had no retirement plans.