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Q2 2017: American Small Business Owners Confident Yet Cautious

Accounting for two-thirds of new jobs and generating more than half the nation's economic output1, there's nothing small about small business.

The MetLife & U.S. Chambe​r of Commerce Small Business Index takes the pulse of this critical segment within the workforce to gauge its outlook on economic and societal trends, resulting in a quarterly Index score. For Q2 2017, the Small Business Index score of 60.6, on a scale of 0 to 100, shows that a majority of small business owners have a positive outlook about their own businesses but it’s tempered by concerns about the national and local economies.

The Index score is the result of extensive interviews from across the small business sector that capture views on operations (overall health, hiring in the past year, cash flow); environment (perceptions on the economy, competition); and expectations (upcoming investment, hiring plans, revenue forecasts).

In Q2 2017, the Small Business Index reflects some interesting drivers:

  • Four in 10 small businesses report that their companies are in "very good" health; with 61% overall saying their business is either "good" or "very good." Smaller companies (fewer than five employees) and retail businesses are less positive with only 33% in the "very good" category.
  • Small business owners have mixed views on the economy. While a majority rate their local and the U.S. economy as average or above, one in four small businesses say the national economy is "poor" or "somewhat poor." Southern businesses are the most bullish about the state of their local economies.
  • Looking ahead, small business owners anticipate growth, with one in four planning to increase investment in their business and add to staff in the next year. Companies with 20 – 99 employees lead the pack in hiring plans, while younger companies (in business less than 10 years) rank first in plans to invest more in their business compared to the prior year.

Explore the full MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index research report at SB​ for additional insights on what your small business clients are thinking about competition, regulatory requirements and the quality of recruits for open positions. Then, check back each quarter for a real-time measure of what’s top of mind for American small businesses.