According to the latest results of a broad small business survey, the country's independent entrepreneurs remain "inordinately" worried about government regulation and taxes as holding back their growth prospects and hiring plans.
As a result, the small business sector often regarded as America's main economic engine showed only slight improvement in optimism when it comes to plans to invest, grow and bring on new employees, the survey showed.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses said today that its small business index –- a trusted measure of small business economic sentiment -- rose a paltry 0.9 points to 88.9 in January. And while this slight uptick was far better than the index's precipitous, 5.6-point plunge back in November during the presidential election, it remains a far cry from robust.
Specifically, the survey showed that collectively, small businesses remain "inordinately concerned" about future economic prospects. Indeed, the index's measure of small business outlook for the next six months remains negative, coming in at a whopping minus-30 points, the fourth-lowest reading on record.
The small businesses surveyed by the NFIB cited government regulation and taxes as the main reasons for their negative outlooks. However, the share of businesses citing poor sales as a reason for their pessimism continued to decline -- a rare positive indicator in the report.
The survey showed that small businesses' plans to hire rose a modest 3 points. In addition to their cautious economic outlook as a factor tempering hiring plans, some businesses looking to hire -- nearly 8 percent -- also cited the lack of qualified applicants as holding back their plans.
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