A new survey conducted by Gallup and Wells Fargo shows a robust economy has translated into elevated confidence among owners of America’s small businesses.
In general, those polled during the quarterly survey last month said strong cash flow and a feeling of financial security have aided in a record high confidence index. The index is considerably higher than the first two quarters of the year, sitting at +118 after previous reports of +107 and +106, respectively.
The previous record predates the continued economic expansion that began in response to the financial crisis at the end of the last decade. In 2006, the index marked a high of +114.
More than three in four small-business owners say the current financial situation is either very or somewhat good. A similar number say they are optimistic about their cash flow over the coming year.
As for cash flow over the past year, more than two in three respondents say it was very or somewhat good.
Slightly less than half of the respondents said they think it will be very or somewhat easy to get credit over the next 12 months. But that number is an increase of five points over the 44 percent who gave the same responses in the previous quarter.
The report found that small-business owners are most likely to be concerned about finding good candidates to fill open positions, a common problem as America approaches record low unemployment numbers.
“In a separate question, 26% of owners say the number of jobs at their company increased over the past 12 months, up slightly from 24% last quarter and the highest in the history of the index,” researchers wrote. “Meanwhile, only 8% of owners say the number of jobs at their business decreased over the past year, standing in sharp contrast to the high point of 35% who reported decreasing employment in the first quarter of 2010.”
More than one in three respondents said they expect to add jobs over the next year. Eighteen percent said hiring is their top concern at this time.
While that is the top single issue, small-business owners are more likely to cite a general governmental issue as their biggest concern.
Nearly one in four picked one of the four issues under this umbrella category.
Taxes accounted for nine percent, regulations and government, in general, received six percent each, and another three percent cited the ongoing concerns about tariffs and a brewing trade war.
Other common sore points among small-business owners were economic issues, which 15 percent cited.
“Another 13% mention marketplace issues such as competition, marketing and products,” the report found.
The researchers found that owners “are clearly feeling positive about their current situation,” reiterating strong responses in the areas of cash flow and their own financial situations.
“Yet the improved economy has its downsides, manifested by owners’ concerns over being able to find, hire and retain qualified employees,” the report concluded. “Given businesses’ potential growth and an overall strong economy, ensuring that they have the workers/qualified employees to maintain that potential growth is key.”
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