The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released the results of its quarterly small business survey, which was taken in March from about 1,300 executives of businesses with fewer than 500 employees and with annual revenue of under $25 million. Of the various data points provided by the Chamber of Commerce’s report, perhaps the most striking is that the new healthcare law has become the biggest concern for small businesses. For the past two years, economic uncertainty has been the number-one concern.
Thirty-two percent of small business owners plan to cut back on hiring in an attempt to avoid the employer mandate that will take affect with the Affordable Care Act. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed say the act will increase the cost of health coverage for their employees, and 71 % say it will be more difficult to hire new employees. Thirty-one percent of small business owners will reduce hours to keep the number of full-time employees under the employer mandate limit.
Of the survey’s results, Chamber of Commerce chief economist Dr. Martin Regalia says “While the general trends of the economy appear to be improving, a closer look shows workforce participation still falling and full-time employment still historically low.” Eighty-seven percent of small business owners said they desire more certainty from the federal government, compared to only 5 % who said they want more assistance.
“In today’s economy, we need policies that will breed confidence and encourage small businesses to expand, not cut back staff and employees’ hours,” says Regalia. “With the right policies in place, small business owners’ optimism and confidence in the economy will improve.”
The Chamber of Commerce’s Q1 survey also indicates strong desire among small businesses for improved government reform of energy and tax policies. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed view rising energy prices as an immediate threat to their business, with 80 % saying they do not believe the current administration is taking sufficient action to keep gas prices low and to foster domestic energy.
Eighty-four percent of small businesses believe that taxes and regulations negatively impact their operations, with 79 % expressing support for comprehensive tax reform. Unsurprisingly, 52 % of surveyed businesses said that the tax code should be less complex.
“U.S. Chamber of Commerce Q1 2013 Small Business Survey,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Needham, Vicki. “Survey: Small Business Most Concerned About Healthcare Law.” The Hill, 4/4/13.