Survey: 66% of small business owners say Biden is accelerating inflation

Appeared in the Washington Times.

America’s small business owners grew slightly more optimistic about the economy in January, but two-thirds worried that President Biden’s policies are accelerating inflation, a new poll shows.

Pollsters John McLaughlin and Scott Rasmussen reported Wednesday that their Small Business Intelligence Quotient rose by 1 point, from 55 out of 100 in December to 56 in January. That’s the third-lowest rating since the monthly survey of business owners started in May.

And 66% of owners said the Biden administration’s Build Back Better agenda will make things worse if it resurfaces.

“After a brief period of relief in 2021 as the country reopened, only to be followed by new waves of COVID variants and Biden policy changes, pessimism and anxiety now dominate small business owners’ outlook,” said Mr. McLaughlin, CEO of McLaughlin and Associates. “Three-quarters of their leading concerns deal with inflation and rising costs to their businesses.”

The pollster noted that 60% of respondents said Biden tax increases will hurt their business, 68% said the president is not doing enough to combat inflation and 67% said he is not doing enough to help supply chain problems.

“America’s small businesses are looking for help right now,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “They do not see that help coming.”

Mr. Rasmussen, president of RMG Research Inc., pointed out that 21% of employers said they believed their small businesses will “never fully recover” from the pandemic. That’s up triple from 7% in the same survey last July.

“That’s a dramatic and depressing increase,” Mr. Rasmussen said. “And, remember, that’s among the small business owners who were able to survive the pandemic.”

The pollsters collaborated on the monthly survey for the conservative Job Creators Network advocacy group. Their Small Business Intelligence Quotient (SBIQ) is an index of optimism based on seven questions about employers’ current conditions and future expectations.

“When we began the SBIQ last May, 48% of small business employers thought the economy was getting better and just 29% said the opposite,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Today, those numbers have reversed: 27% better and 50% worse.”

The Small Business Administration said in a statement emailed to The Washington Times that Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman will visit Dallas on Friday “to meet with, and hear directly from, local small business owners” about their concerns.

“While it’s been a challenging year for our small businesses, under her leadership, the SBA has helped thousands of Dallas-area entrepreneurs whether the pandemic through emergency relief programs,” Edward “Ted” James, the agency’s Region 6 administrator, said in the statement. “And we stand ready to help those same innovators and entrepreneurs benefit from new opportunities from transformational legislation like President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

The SBIQ also found that 74% of small business owners worried last month about coronavirus-related government mandates hurting their business and 69% said the economy is in “fair or poor condition” — a figure that jumped to 75% for businesses with two to nine employees.

Half of the small business owners said they believe the economy is getting worse while 27% said it is improving, the lowest percentage the survey has seen in nine months.

Elaine Parker, president of the Job Creators Network Foundation, said in a statement that survey results suggest the COVID-19 “economic recovery is on cruise control.”

The JCN Monthly Monitor surveyed 500 small business employers Jan. 7-31 in randomly distributed invitations online, targeting a representative geographic and demographic sampling. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points at a 95% confidence interval.