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U.S. Chamber Releases Q2 Small Business Survey

Monday, July 15, 2013 - 8:00pm

Health Care Law Emerged as Top Concern as Deadline for Full Implementation of Law’s Requirements Loom

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s latest quarterly small business survey finds that the health care law has emerged as the top concern for small businesses.  The survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive in July 2013 among more than 1,300 small business executives, shows that concerns about regulation have increased significantly and hiring continues to be stalled by uncertainty and regulatory burdens.

The outlook for hiring remains grim, with the majority of small businesses saying they do not have plans to hire next year. However, small business owners overwhelmingly voiced support for polices that would remove regulatory barriers and encourage growth, with 88% supporting action to address entitlement spending, and 81%  responding that the immigration system is broken and needs to be reformed.

“Excessive regulation is having a crippling effect on job growth among small businesses, as our latest small business survey makes clear,” said Rob Engstrom, the Chamber’s senior vice president and national political director. “In fact, the only thing that scares small businesses more than the current business climate is what Washington bureaucrats will do next. Today’s tough economic climate demands leadership on today’s big issues.”

Concern about the 2010 health care bill has increased by 10-points since June 2011 and by four points since last quarter. Eight-out-of-ten small businesses (79%) continue to think the U.S. economy is off on the wrong track, and 61% do not have plans to hire in the next year.

“The impact of the health care law on small business gets worse with every day that passes,” Engstrom said. “As we approach the 2014 elections, we will hold members of Congress accountable for votes on policies that paralyze growth and job creation. And health care will be a defining issue for the business community.”

Key findings include:

Health Care Law is Top Concern

  • Concern about Obamacare has increased by 10-points since June 2011 and by four points since last quarter.
  • 71% of small businesses say the health care law makes it harder to hire.
  • Only 30% say they are prepared for the requirements of the law, including participation in the marketplaces, and one-quarter say they are unaware of what is required.
  • Among small businesses that will be impacted by the employer mandate, one-half of small businesses say that they will either cut hours to reduce full time employees OR replace full time employees with part-timers to avoid the mandate. 24% say they will reduce hiring to stay under 50 employees.

Outlook for Hiring Remains Grim

  • 77% continue to think the U.S. economy is on the wrong track. However, small businesses are more optimistic about their local economy and individual business.
  • The majority (61%) of small businesses do not have plans to hire next year.

Small Businesses Looking for Legislative Solutions, Not More Regulation

  • Concerns about regulation have increased significantly from 35% last quarter to 42% now.
  • Small businesses are looking for leadership on issues that will remove barriers and encourage growth.
    • 88% of all small businesses support addressing entitlement spending to resolve America’s growing financial challenges and escalating debt.
    • 83% support Congressional efforts to reform the tax code—with the majority focusing on making it less complex.
    • 81% of small businesses surveyed believe the immigration system is broken and needs to be reformed.
    • In contrast to the President’s recent speech pushing new energy regulations, 90% of small businesses support easing EPA regulations and opening up more federal lands for drilling.

Methodology

The Q2 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Outlook Survey was conducted online between June 21 – July 8 by Harris Interactive among 1,304 Small Business Executives (defined as executive level position in a company with fewer than 500 employees and annual revenue less than $25 M).

The full survey results are available here.