Thomas M. Sullivan Thomas M. Sullivan
Vice President, Small Business Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Updated

July 08, 2024

Published

December 12, 2023

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Every week, the U.S. Chamber's Vice President of Small Business Policy, Tom Sullivan, summarizes the latest data on small businesses from leading organizations, including CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, Intuit, and more, and explains what it all means for the health of America's small businesses and the national economy.

The latest: Small business data show an uptick in hiring on Main Street. However, worker shortages remain, and wage inflation remains a strong headwind. More surveys show small businesses are bullish on the post-election economy. 

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New Small Business Data

Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index(July 5, 2024)

Summary: Data show the first small business employment increase in 15 months.

  • The sector that includes agriculture, natural resources, and mining led the way for small business employment growth in June with a 0.58% month-over-month increase. The construction, education, and health services sectors also experienced growth.
  • The information sector took the hardest hit in decreased employment among small business sectors, decreasing by 0.51% in June. Leisure, hospitality, utilities, transport, and warehousing also decreased employment in June.
  • The plains region (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD) led the 8 regions with a small business employment growth rate of 0.62% in June.
  • The only region that did not experience small business employment growth in June was the Southwest (AZ, NM, OK, TX).

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) June Jobs Report (July 4, 2024)

Summary: The good news is that Main Street’s plans to hire are strong. The bad news is that there is still a worker shortage, which continues to drive wage inflation.

  • 37% of small businesses reported job openings they could not fill in June (5 points lower than May but still far above the 49-year average of 23%).
  • 60% of small businesses hired or tried to hire in June (no change from May). Of those hiring, 85% of owners reported few or no qualified job applicants (also, no change from May).
  • 15% of small business owners are planning to create new jobs in the next 3-months (no change from May, which was the highest level for 2024).
  • 38% of businesses raised compensation in June (1 point higher than May), and 22% of small business owners plan on raising compensation in the next 3 months (4 points higher than May).
  • 31% of small businesses have openings for skilled workers (6 points lower than in May), and 16% have openings for unskilled labor (2 points higher than in May).
  • Over half the small businesses in construction (51%) have a job opening they can’t fill.

Don't Miss the Small Business Podcast

The U.S. Chamber's Tom Sullivan and National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)'s Holly Wade talk about their small business forecasts on a weekly podcast.

WSJ / Vistage Small Business CEO Confidence Index(June 27, 2024)

Summary: Small businesses began the summer with an uptick in post-election confidence.

  • 19% of small business owners say the economy has improved compared to 12 months ago (no change from May), and 34% say that the economy has gotten worse (no change from May).
  • 24% of small business owners believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months (up 3 points from May), and 24% believe the economy will worsen (3 points better than May).
  • 52% of small businesses plan on increasing employees in the next 12 months (up 4 points from May).
  • 36% of small businesses expect to increase fixed investments in the next year (up 4 points from May).
  • 62% of small businesses expect increased revenues in the next 12 months (up 4 points).
  • 49% believe profitability will improve (up 4 points from May), and 16% of small business owners believe profitability will decrease (4 points better than in May).
  • 51% of small business owners believe inflation will rise at a slower rate over the next 12 months (up 2 points from May), and 7% believe inflation will rise at a greater rate than this past year (1 point lower than May).
  • 59% of small business owners report that labor costs are the top source of inflation in their businesses.
  • 13% of small business owners believe the latest tariffs on Chinese goods will negatively impact their businesses. 3% of small business owners believe the tariffs will be beneficial.

MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index for Q2 (June 26, 2024)

Summary: Small business owners continue to feel good about their own operations and about their local economy. The opposite is true with regard to their feelings about the national economy.

  • 36% of small business owners are positive about the nation’s economic health (increased 3 points since last quarter) and 47% are negative about the U.S. economy (1 point less negative).
  • 43% of small business owners are positive about the health of their local economy (an increase of 5 points since last quarter), and 27% are negative about their local economy (3 points less negative than last quarter).
  • 55% of small business owners rank inflation as their top concern (3 points higher than last quarter and the 10th consecutive quarter where inflation tops the list of concerns).
  • 46% of small businesses plan on increasing investment over the next 12 months (10 points higher than last quarter), and 41% of small businesses plan on adding staff (7 points higher than last quarter).
  • The percentage of small business owners expecting increased revenues reached a record-high 73% (an increase of 6 points since last quarter).
  • 66% of small businesses are confident in the health of their own business (1 point increase from last quarter), and 73% are comfortable with their current cash flow (6-point increase from last quarter).
  • 22% of small businesses increased staff over the past year (6 points higher than last quarter and tied with the highest level reached 2 years ago).

Tune-in to America's Small Business Network

Catch Tom Sullivan on ASBN (America's Small Business Network) every month, providing the latest small business news and policy updates.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices Survey on Child Care Challenges (June 20, 2024)

Summary: Many small business owners believe that solutions to childcare will help solve the worker shortage crisis.

  • A majority of small business owners believe that providing solutions for access to childcare will help alleviate worker shortages that have stifled small business growth for several years.
  • 35% of small business owners report their employees have cut work hours or dropped out of the workforce due to a lack of affordable access to childcare.
  • 38% of small business owners report that lack of affordable childcare choices has had a negative impact on operating or growing their business.
  • 62% of small business owners believe that being able to offer a childcare benefit would positively impact the recruitment and retention of employees.

Small Business Cash Flow Trend Report for Q1 2024 from OnDeck and Ocrolus (May 23, 2024)

Summary: Small business owners remain confident in their cash flow and expectations despite continued headwinds of inflation.

  • The top reason why entrepreneurs start their own business is to be their own boss (37.7%), followed by the potential for greater income (25.8%).
  • 93% of small business owners are expecting moderate or significant growth over the next 12 months (up 1 point from last quarter). Immigrant-owned businesses have the greatest optimism, with 41% expecting significant growth over the next 12 months.
  • 72% of small businesses have more than a 30-day cash buffer. 41% keep a minimum balance of one month’s revenue in a checking account, and 56.2% have a business line of credit.
  • Payroll as a percentage of revenue rose 1 point from a year ago to 19.5%.
  • 92% of family-run businesses are run by first-generation business owners, and 58% of those businesses plan on passing the business on to a family member in the future.

The MetLife & U.S. Chamber Small Business Index

Our quarterly survey delivers a comprehensive quantitative snapshot of the small business sector and explores small business owners’ perspectives on the latest economic and business trends.

American Express Amex Trendex: Small Business Edition (May 8, 2024)

Summary: Entrepreneurs love being small business owners even with strong headwinds.

  • 95% of small business owners are happy with their decision to start their company.
  • 84% of owners started their small business because of personal passion. 65% started their business because of a need in their community. 59% started their business to support their family and future generations, and 44% started their business because they needed more flexibility.
  • 60% of small business owners expect to run their business for more than 5 years.
  • Rising prices are the top concern of small business owners and those inflationary pressures are greatest in labor costs (81%) followed by commercial insurance (68%), goods & inputs (67%), employee benefits (including health insurance) (63%), and access to capital (57%).

About the authors

Thomas M. Sullivan

Thomas M. Sullivan

Thomas M. Sullivan is vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Working with chambers of commerce and the U.S. Chamber’s nationwide network, Sullivan harnesses the views of small businesses and translates that grassroots power into federal policies that bolster free enterprise and reward entrepreneurship. He runs the U.S.

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