Small-business sentiment plunges to lowest level in 30 months: Survey

Read the full story at the Washington Examiner.

Sentiment among small-business owners hit its lowest level in 30 months in November, according to a new survey of small businesses across the country.

The survey, released on Wednesday by the Job Creators Network Foundation, a group that promotes conservative economic policies and is generally opposed to President Joe Biden, found that an index tracking overall sentiment about the economy fell to 51.9 last month, down from 56.2 in October. That is the lowest reading that the index has notched since the monthly survey began in May 2021.

Furthermore, the indices for both current conditions and expectations for future conditions fell in November from the month before. Still, notably, neither index has fallen into negative territory, which is below 50.

The survey, which consists of the responses from 400 small-business employers, found fairly broad dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden’s handling of the economy.

The White House, touting falling inflation, still-low unemployment, and strong economic growth, has attempted to highlight the bright spots as “Bidenomics” at work, although respondents panned the president’s economic performance.

Just under 20% of respondents gave Biden’s job performance with helping small businesses a grade of A or B, while 80% gave him a C, D, or F. In that group, about a fourth of respondents gave the president a C, while 41% gave his job performance an F.

When the small-business owners were asked specifically whether “Bidenomics” has been good or bad for their companies and overall economy, just over 1 in 4 said it has been good, while 66% said it has been bad.

“‘Bidenomics’ is clearly unpopular among small businesses, which isn’t surprising,” said Elaine Parker, president of the Job Creators Network Foundation. “The policy agenda has left entrepreneurs navigating two years of high inflation, a growing regulatory state, and the threat of higher taxes.”

“Main Street isn’t buying the economic misdirection, and neither should the broader American public,” she added.

Inflation continues to be the biggest concern for small-business owners. When given a list of topics, 44% rated inflation as either their biggest or second-biggest concern. The overall economy and customer spending clocked in as the next biggest concern, followed by general operating costs.

Annual inflation has fallen since the Federal Reserve began hiking interest rates. While inflation hovered at a high of about 9% in June 2022, annual inflation is now running at 3.2%, according to the consumer price index. While that is definite progress, it is still above the Fed’s 2% goal.

Small-business owners are also still feeling the sting because prices are still far higher than they were just a couple of years ago when inflation began taking off. Perceptions of prices among those surveyed are higher than official inflation readings as well.

Some 65% of the small-business owners said that the price increases their company has faced have been more than inflation, while about a quarter said that they are on par with the national inflation gauges.