Survey: Small Businesses More Uncertain than Ever

Nov 13, 2012

Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg.

Small businesses are experiencing a record-high level of economic uncertainty and are not hiring, according to the National Federation of Independent Business’ (NFIB) October Small Business Optimism Index taken before last week's election.

The overall index improved slightly, but 23% of respondents said they were uncertain "whether business conditions will be better or worse in six months," the highest the index has ever recorded. Also, labor demand remains weak, with only a net 4% planning to add workers in the next three months.

Along similar lines, the latest U.S. Chamber Small Business Outlook Survey found that 49% “are not sure if their business’s best days are ahead or behind them,” and only 17% planned to add workers in 2013.

NFIB chief economist William Dunkelberg finds that threats from Washington continue hanging over the economy [emphasis his]:

The election is over and Washington looks much like it did on November 5th. The fear of stalemate among the small-business community is palpable, as the looming fiscal cliff and the threat of higher costs and more taxes are very real possibilities come January. Until then, not knowing the direction of the economy will always have a dampening impact on spending and hiring.

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