Small Business Optimism Highest Since Great Depression

According to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, presented by Coleen McMurray and Frank Newport, small-business owners remain optimistic about their business situation, says the report. Down marginally (+95) from the +100 recorded in February, the two measurements this year represent a strong increase over 2016 index scores, and are at the highest level since the Great Recession. One year ago, the index was at +64.

Small-business owners are particularly positive about their finances, with 73% saying their current financial situation is "very good" or "somewhat good." In addition, 46% say their business' revenue increased "a little" or "a lot" over the past 12 months. And 63% say their cash flow has been very or somewhat good over the past 12 months, says the report.

Credit access continues to be positive, says the report, with only 19% saying that credit was "somewhat difficult" or "very difficult" to obtain over the past 12 months. These measures are all more positive than they were a year ago.

As is typically the case, says the report, owners are more positive than negative about the future size of their workforce. 31% say the number of jobs at their business will increase over the next 12 months, significantly more than the 6% who predict it will decrease.

All owners were asked to evaluate five statements pertaining to the challenge of hiring new employees. 52% of those surveyed agree that they have difficulty finding qualified people to apply for jobs at their business, making this the top challenge of the responders. At the other end of the spectrum, only 19% agree that being forced to choose among multiple qualified candidates is a problem, says the report.

Two other hiring challenges get higher levels of agreement than disagreement from owners: difficulty knowing how well an applicant will do once hired, and applicants being either overqualified or underqualified for the position.

Small-Business Owners' Challenges in Hiring New Employees



Neither agree nor disagree


You have difficulty finding good people to apply for jobs at your business




You have difficulty knowing how well the applicants will do once they are hired




Candidates who apply for jobs at your business are over- or underqualified for position




You do not have the time and resources to devote to finding the best candidates




You have difficulty deciding which of multiple qualified candidates to hire




Source: Wells Fargo/Gallup, May 2017

Concluding, the report says that small-business owners have become sharply more positive about business conditions since the 2016 presidential election, and have generally maintained that increased confidence in the latest update of the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index. Previous Small Business Index surveys have shown that owners have become more upbeat because they feel the new administration will be better for small businesses in the areas of taxes, healthcare and government regulation.

For additional information and charts from WellsFargo, please visit here.


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