A recent Harris Poll for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce asked small business owners about their future outlook. Here are some highlights from the survey. A total 1,409 businesses were questioned, with a small business defined as a company with an annual income $25 million or less. An overwhelming majority of respondents, 84%, said they thought the US economy was on the wrong track, with 54% also indicating they felt their local economy was on the wrong track. When asked to identify what they say as the greatest challenge to the current business environment, the majority of respondents (49%) replied that “economic uncertainty” was the most pressing current issue, compared to “America’s growing debt and deficit,” 47%, the 2010 healthcare bill 39%, and “overregulation” 36%.
39% of surveyed business owners indicated that they thought America’s best days were “behind us,” compared to 20% that think the country’s best days lie ahead. Importantly, topping the list of factors named as “obstacles to hiring” was also economic uncertainty, trailed distantly by lack of sales, uncertainty about regulatory environment, and healthcare. 80% of respondents also believe that the country’s debt will threaten their business at some point in time.
Commenting on the results of the survey at the annual Jobs for America Summit today, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue called for Washington to get cooking on helping create a stable outlook for business. Donahue said, “Stronger and faster economic growth is the best way to successfully put Americans back to work. The time is now for Congress and the White House to act boldly and restore America’s reputation as a can-do country…The voices of these Main Street businesses are telling us plain and simple: To start hiring, we need faster economic growth and a change of course in Washington.”
Donahue identified approving free trade agreements with South Korea (NYSE:EWY) and other nations, investing in infrastructure, and helping to clear the inventory on the housing market as practical steps the government could take immediately to fuel economic growth.