Sep 20, 2023 - Economy

Small business owners are feeling more confident lately

Data: The Q3 MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: The Q3 MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index; Chart: Axios Visuals

An index that measures small business owners' confidence jumped six points in the third quarter, nearly reaching its pre-pandemic high.

Why it matters: Score one for team soft landing the index, published by the Chamber of Commerce Wednesday morning, is another sign that the economy is doing OK.

By the numbers: To compile the index, the researchers surveyed 751 U.S. business owners who run companies with fewer than 500 people. They asked questions about the state of their business, the local and national economy, and their future expectations.

  • 66% of small business owners say their business is in good health — nearly a 10-point increase.
  • 71% say they expect revenue to increase next year — the highest number since the survey launched in 2017.
  • While small business owners are upbeat about their own company's health, they're less positive about the economy overall. Only 33% say the economy is in good health a 9-point increase from last quarter, but still quite low.
  • A similar pattern is playing out among Americans as a whole, who say the economy's terrible but their personal finances are OK.

Of note: Since 2022, a majority of small business owners have said inflation is their biggest challenge — no other concern comes close. Only about 15% cited rising interest rates as their biggest challenge in the latest survey.

  • Wage inflation is of particular concern in Q3: 56% of small businesses said keeping up with employee salary expectations is a challenge.
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