A Message from President & CEO Michael Varney
Small Business Survey
United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC)
The United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) has just released its fifth consecutive small business survey. The survey is a quarterly review of small business' outlook on the economy, local operations and policies from Washington.
The survey indicated small business optimism is increasing. At the same time the ability of small businesses to hire and grow operations is not. Concerns about gas prices are on the rise and economic uncertainty continues to be a serious challenge. 52% of small businesses viewed over-regulation as their top threat, and 73% said the health care law was another major obstacle to future growth.
Here are some key findings of the survey (exact text from the survey):
The Small Business Outlook Is Improving but Hasn't Impacted Hiring Trends
While small business confidence is increasing, with a 7% increase in the confidence of the economy since January, hiring has remained stagnant. Q1 saw a slight increase in the number of small businesses that have lost employees in the last year (30%). Nearly half of small business respondents (49%) have kept the same number of staff, and only 20% have hired in the last year.
Concerns about over-regulation are the highest we've seen in the past year, with 42% of small businesses citing it as a major concern and 52% citing regulations as the top threat to their business, increasing 9 percentage points since last June.
What do concerns about regulations and policies mean for small businesses? Stalled growth. 80% of small businesses surveyed report the taxation, regulation, and legislation from Washington make it harder for their business to hire more employees. Nearly three-out-of-four (73%) of small businesses surveyed cite the recent health care law as an obstacle to growing their business and hiring more employees.
Small Businesses Recognize the Link between Politics and Policy
A vast majority (97%) of small businesses surveyed cite a candidate's support for the free enterprise system as important, 84% cite as very important.
Almost as many small businesses, (92%) think the business community should lead the American Recovery, compared to 8% who think the federal government has the best solutions.
The vast majority of small businesses still are looking for the government to get out of the way (81%) and for more certainty opposed to government assistance.
Small businesses see all bureaucrats in Washington as the problem but have sharpened their criticism of the Administration and Congressional Democrats in the past 9 months. Close to half of all respondents approve of the job the House Republican Majority is doing; only 8% approve of the Senate Democrat Majority. Sixteen percent of small businesses approve of the job President Obama is doing.
Hiring Expectations and Why Small Businesses Aren't Hiring
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Energy Prices Are a Growing Threat to Small Businesses
There are real concerns about rising energy prices-and no sense that the administration is doing much about it.The perceived threat of gas prices on small businesses has more than doubled, from 10% of respondents citing it as a top concern in January to 24% in March. Seventy-eight percent think the Obama Administration has not done enough to keep prices low, increase domestic sources of energy, or support American job creation.In Congress, only 2% of Democrats are trusted to address domestic energy production.
What Small Businesses Need from Washington
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Our Take on the USCC Survey
The old phrase, "I'm from Washington and I'm here to help you" is as comical today as it was decades ago. What business needs is simple:
Washington needs to get out of the way of free enterprise and capitalism.
Regulations at all levels of government are excessive and are restricting business growth and the growth of jobs.
Political jousting has created an unprecedented level of uncertainty. Businesses are reluctant to make plans when the future is unpredictable.
Our economy needs a renaissance of limited government and unlimited opportunity. If Washington gets out of the way, business can rev up our economy all by itself.
Michael V. Varney
President & CEO