Index Summary

Confidence in Local Economies
Drives Rise in Outlook

Increased confidence in local economies and the health of small businesses helped push the MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index up for the second consecutive quarter to 63.2. This means 63.2% of small business owners have a positive outlook about their company and the small business environment in the United States.

Q4 Index highlights

Most small businesses are not prepared for catastrophic events. Only one-third of small businesses have plans in place to deal with a natural disaster, and less than half have formalized plans to deal with cybercrime. One-quarter have no plans for any type of catastrophic event (see “Quarterly Spotlight” here).

Revenue and investment expectations remain steady. Over half of small business owners (57%) expect revenues to increase next year. A quarter of small business owners (25%) plan to increase investment in their business.

Local economies remain bright spots. Nearly half of small business owners (48%) report feeling "good" about the health of their local economy, up six percentage points from Q2 as cash flow remains strong. In contrast, about one-third (38%) report feeling “good” about the national economy—a drop from Q3.

Holiday sales are not “make-or-break” for most small businesses. While a majority of retailers report that their overall profit depends on the holiday season, surprisingly two-thirds of all small businesses report that it’s not key to their overall profit.

The gulf is widening between the national and local economic outlook. The increasingly rosy local economic outlook stands in contrast to worsening national sentiment, highlighting a growing divergence in perception between what entrepreneurs see countrywide compared to what they observe in their own backyard.

A quarter of small businesses have little to no online presence. Time and staffing constraints are the biggest challenges to maintaining these activities (see “Emerging Topic” here).