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A bakery in Walnut Creek, Calif. Photo: Gado/Getty Images, courtesy Sftm

Inflation, labor shortages and supply chain issues are undermining the economy, but midsize and small businesses are still hopeful about the new year.

The big picture: 83% of midsize businesses and 71% of small businesses “are optimistic about their own performance in 2022,” according to JPMorgan Chase’s 2022 Business Leaders Outlook Survey out today. That’s up from 77% and 63% at the dawn of 2021, respectively.

To compete with larger, well-resourced companies, smaller employers are finding ways to boost wages and benefits.

  • 61% of small businesses are poised to offer health insurance in 2022, up from 52% in 2021, says JPMorgan.

What they’re saying: “Those are the kind of things they realized they had to do to retain workers and keep them,” JPMorgan economist Jim Glassman tells Axios.

Go deeper

America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic

Data: BLS; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The shortage of workers in the U.S. has become a flywheel of doom, messing up our lives and society writ large. And many of the underlying problems that led to this breakdown are bigger than the pandemic.

The big picture: Millions of immigrants, older workers and mothers are missing from the labor force. Those labor shortages create problems like supply chain woes, school closures, and skyrocketing child care costs — and some of those problems further exacerbate the worker shortages.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks has dropped plans to require that U.S. workers get the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly testing, the company announced Tuesday in a memo to employees.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

4 hours ago - World

Netanyahu plea talks enter crunch time

Netanyahu (right) meets with his lawyer ahead of a court hearing last February. Photo: Reuven Casto/Pool/AFP via Getty

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and former prime minister, is negotiating a possible plea deal over the corruption charges against him, but Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit appears to be toughening his terms.

Why it matters: Mandelblit leaves office on Jan. 31. Negotiations could continue beyond that point, but the next attorney general may be less interested in quickly reaching a deal.