Index Summary

ECONOMIC OUTLOOK BRIGHTENS
FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS,
BUT CHALLENGES REMAIN

A more bullish outlook on the economy and increasing confidence in the health of their businesses led to a 1.7 point increase in the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, which rose from 60.6 in the second quarter of 2017 to 62.3 in the third quarter. That means 62.3% of small business owners have a positive outlook for their companies and the environment in which they operate.

THE INDEX YIELDED THE
FOLLOWING HIGHLIGHTS:

Companies’ financial health is strong. Almost two-thirds (61%) of all small businesses report being in good financial health. More than half of small businesses with more than 20 employees report that they are in very good health.

Economic outlook is brightening. Many small businesses are optimistic about the overall trajectory of the economy, which corresponds with a surging stock market, higher second quarter GDP, and declining unemployment rates. However, plans to increase hiring or reinvestment in their businesses dropped slightly from the second quarter.

Time spent on regulatory compliance is increasing for a quarter of small businesses. Nearly one in four small businesses report spending more time on licensing, compliance, and regulations over the last six months.

Lack of qualified workers could be impacting hiring. An inability to find appropriately skilled or trained workers appears to be impacting small businesses’ plans to increase staff over the coming year. (See In the Spotlight here.)

Almost 60% of small businesses are concerned about cybersecurity. In addition, small businesses with 20–99 employees are more likely to be “concerned” (62%)—with one in five (18%) feeling “very concerned”—than companies with fewer 20 employees.