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Small business owners have mixed view of economy

September 12, 2016

Small business owners aren't very upbeat about the economy, but they're also not particularly pessimistic. That's the finding of a semiannual survey of owners taken in July and August and released last week by the advocacy group National Small Business Association.

Owners' view of the economy has changed little from a similar survey taken in December. When asked to compare the economy now versus a year ago, 32 percent said it was improved, the same number as in December. A third said it was worse, up slightly from 29 percent. And 35 percent described the economy as about the same, down from 39 percent.

In its analysis, the NSBA said the negativity of the presidential election campaign likely is the biggest contributor to owners' lack of enthusiasm about the economy. The NSBA noted that only 44 percent of owners said the economy is better off than it was five years ago, although the economy is actually improved since 2011.

Looking ahead, owners' expectations for the economy are marginally brighter than they were in December — 29 percent expect the economy to grow, compared to December's 26 percent.

At the same time, nearly half the owners said economic uncertainty is one of the most significant challenges to their companies, followed by a drop in consumer spending, the burdens posed by government regulations, and the cost of health insurance.

Owners' expectations for their revenue were little changed — 57 percent projected their revenue to increase during the next six months, compared with 58 percent in December. A third expect to hire, down slightly from 35 percent. But the number that plan to cut jobs was unchanged at 8 percent.

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