Small business owners are more optimistic about the economy than they were one year ago, according to The American Express OPEN Economic Pulse, a survey of small business owners designed to gauge sentiment and future plans. Of those surveyed, 43% think it will improve over the next 12 to 18 months versus 30% in January 2009.
Even with this growing sense of optimism, there is still genuine concern and anxiety about the economy: 38% say their greatest concern is a prolonged recession/“double dip” and 32% list high unemployment. Overall, 68% say the economy stresses them out (on par with January 2009).
Those surveyed said they take advantage of a tax credit for hiring if they had one (51%) however customer demand is by far the greatest determinant in hiring (42%), not tax credits (11%) or access to financing (5%). Almost 60% have not pursued credit in the last 6 months. Of that group, 22% worry about default or bankruptcy and 30% say there isn’t enough demand for their products or services to warrant taking on new debt.
And, federal deficits and high taxes don’t seem to be major concerns (8% and 18%, respectively), when compared to the aforementioned possibility of a “double dip” recession (38%) and high unemployment (32%).
For the full report from the survey, download the American Express OPEN Economic Pulse Fact Sheet.