The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Confidence Index ticked up two points this quarter, but small business owners are expecting the Biden administration and Democratic-controlled Senate to have a negative impact on their businesses over the next year. Here are some key highlights from our latest survey of more than 2,000 small business owners, fielded January 23-30, 2023.
Small business favors the Republican House over the Democratic Senate and White House
- Majorities of small business owners say they expect the actions of the Biden administration (57%) and the Democratic-controlled Senate (53%) to have a negative effect on their business over the next 12 months. Views of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are much more favorable, with just 21% expecting a negative effect, 44% expecting no effect, and 33% expecting a positive effect.
- Biden’s approval rating among small business owners slipped back down to 32%, from 34% last quarter.
- 86% of small business owners are concerned that the US government has reached its debt ceiling, with a full 61% saying they are “very concerned.” Concern is significantly higher among Republicans than Democrats. Small business owners are about as concerned as others in the general public about reaching the debt ceiling limit.
Main Street is still hiring
- 29% of small business owners say they have open roles that have gone unfilled for at least three months, proving that the corporate layoffs concentrated in tech and finance haven’t made too much of a dent on Main Street. Year-over-year, that number is unchanged.
- Similarly, 45% of small business owners say they are currently experiencing rising costs of wages, identical to the number who reported that result in each of the previous four quarters.
- Though small businesses are feeling some pain in the labor market, the number reporting experiencing rising costs of wages continues to be outstripped by the number reporting supply chain disruptions (51%) and rising costs of supplies (75%).
- Almost half (46%) of small business owners say it has gotten harder to find qualified people to hire, compared with how it was a year ago. In every quarter that we’ve asked about hiring for the past two years, about half of small business owners say it keeps getting harder and harder to hire workers.
- 23% of small business owners say they expect their headcount to increase over the next 12 months, a slight uptick from Q4 (21%) and Q3 (20%).
A new normal: stuck in a recession uncertainty
- About half (48%) of small business owners say “we’re already in a recession”—nearly identical to the 49% who said so in Q4 of last year as well, and significantly down from the 57% who said so in Q3 2022.
- Similarly, 47% of small business owners describe the current state of the economy as “poor,” 34% as “fair,” 15% as “good,” and just 3% as “excellent”--all unchanged from last quarter.
- Three times as many small business owners continue to expect inflation to continue to rise than say it has already peaked (74% vs. 23%), nearly unchanged from the previous two quarters.
- But, slightly more small business owners now than in previous quarter say:
- They are confident in the Federal Reserve’s ability to control inflation (31% now vs. 28% in Q4’22)
- Their business is prepared to withstand a recession if it were to occur (65% now vs. 61% in Q4).
- Despite all this, our Small Business Confidence Index ticked up two points to a score of 45/100. Throughout Joe Biden’s presidency, confidence on Main Street has varied little, consistently falling within a four-point range from 42 to 46.
Click through all the results in the interactive toplines below: