Carrie Brooks


August 23, 2017


The U.S. Chamber and MetLife today released the Q3 results of the Small Business Index. The latest index found that, when it comes to the economy, America’s small business owners remain optimistic. The majority of these business owners (56 percent) anticipate revenue will increase and an even greater majority (81 percent) indicates its confidence in their cash flow situation.

The survey saw an eight percent bump in the percentage of small business owners that were optimistic about the national economy. The number rose from 33 percent in Q2 to 41 percent in the current quarter.

Small business rating the health of the U.S. economy as very or somewhat good

The Q3 Index also found that 62.3 percent of small business owners have a positive outlook for their companies and for the environments in which they operate. This number was up 1.7 points from Q2’s score of 60.6 percent.

Small business outlook for company and operating environment

Similarly, 61 percent of small businesses report good financial health.

A professional services industry leader in Oregon reports, “Our business has increased. Our clients have increased. Our prospects have definitely increased.”

Meanwhile, nearly half (46 percent) of those surveyed expressed that their local economies were in good health.

One Massachusetts small business owner illustrates this, saying,

“In my area I see more job opportunity, lower unemployment, an increase in wages, and more businesses opening. Real estate has increased in value. And people are enjoying higher income levels.”

Not all sentiments, however, were as rosy.

Businesses reported having a difficult time finding skilled workers. In the last 12 months, only one in five (18 percent) small business owners have increased their number of staff. And in Q3, 24 percent of the businesses surveyed indicate their intention to increase hiring in the next year, falling from 29 percent in Q2.

The Index indicates that a lack of qualified candidates could contribute to this diminished percentage.

Anecdotal survey responses reinforce these numbers.

One small business owner in Texas remarks, “The biggest challenge in growing my business is finding highly-trained, highly-skilled workers.”

“I believe a barrier to industry is the slowly deteriorating pool of skilled laborers. College is not for everyone. We need more vocational and tech training. Our society feels a college degree should be obtained by everyone, and it shouldn’t,” says a Louisiana business owner.

Percentage of small businesses planning to increase hiring in the next year

U.S. Chamber Senior Executive Vice President Suzanne Clark said of this finding,

“Small business owners need a qualified workforce to unlock the full potential of the sector. The insights uncovered in this Small Business Index reinforce the importance for collaboration between the business community and our education leaders on efforts aimed at closing the skills gap. We must get this right to produce a skilled workforce that in turn will power a stronger economy.”

The Small Business Index is a collaborative effort by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Its purpose is to illuminate the performance and predictions of small businesses across the country.

One thousand small business owners from every region of the U.S. responded to a survey of ten questions. The core questions focused on business operations, environment, and expectations. The interviews were conducted by Ipsos, an independent research group.

Explore the full Q3 Small Business Index results here.

About the authors

Carrie Brooks