Small Business Inspires Hope For the Economy

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I read an article about business owner confidence in the Orange County Register and wanted to share it here. Not many people read the paper nowadays so I wanted to write it down for my digital friends. Insightful article that points to slightly higher confidence and moderate growth. Enjoy.

Small Business Inspires Hope for the Economy

Small business is a critical slice of the US economy. Our tally of business patterns attempts to quantify the niche’s condition.

Confidence: The National Federation of Independent Business’ monthly member survey finds antsy owners.

The survey found March’s confidence count as a slight improvement over February, when the score dipped from January. Nevertheless, the index remains in a narrow range that would have been seen as recessionary before the 2008 financial crisis.

“We can only be encouraged that the economy is at least crawling forward and not heading in reverse”, said NFIB chief economist, Bill Dunkelberg.

Hiring: Small business owners are in a hiring mood.

Intuit’s Small Business Index gathers financial data from users of it’s bookkeeping software with 20 or fewer employees. This index shows small business employment in March back at a five-year high and in that half-decade hourly salaries are up 10%.

One worrisome note: The index has barely budged in the past year.

Bottom Lines: Owners say their financial outlook is sunnier.

The Wells Fargo/Gallup Index Survey gives a glimpse into the outlook for the books, with the first quarter polling finding owners saying this about the next 12 months:

– 66 percent described their financial situation looking very good or somewhat good – the most optimism since the 3rd quarter 2008. Note that 82 percent of respondents were this buoyant in pre-recession 2007.

– 52 percent said cash flow should be very good or somewhat good – the upbeat outlook since first quarter 2008.

– 48 percent see revenue up a lot or a little – the best forecast since second quarter 2012.

Credit: There’s actually money for people who need it.

The Experian/Moody’s Analytics Small Business Credit Index measures lending and loan payment conditions for employers with less than 100 workers. This benchmark rose for 2013’s fourth quarter to hit the highest level in its four-year history. Pushing the index higher was growing use of credit by owners; on the negative side was a slight tick up in 30-day loan delinquencies.

The report concludes that “this is a solid indication that small businesses are finally reaping some of the benefits of the nearly five-year-old US recovery.”