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  • Tag Archive for 'economy'

    SBA Poll Results: How is the economy looking for you?

    The Question:
    With two months of 2014 behind us, how is the economy looking for your business?

    5% - So far, 2014 sales are great and expect this to continue.

    34% - We’re seeing improvement over last year.

    42% - So far, this year is trending no better than last year.

    18% - This year is looking worse than last year.

    My Comments:
    When we asked you about your instincts about the new year in our online poll the first week of January, 60% of you said you were either positive or very positive. Alas, as you can see above, now two months into the new year, less than four in ten small business owners see any signs of economic growth in the early going. With this kind of response from the pathologically optimistic sector that creates over half of the U.S. economy, it looks like anything but a robust recovery continues to be our reality.

    Here’s the understatement of the decade: This is starting to get out of hand. Of course I’m talking about what seems to be entrenched malaise on Main Street. Please remember, I’m just commenting on what you report to me. I would much rather be talking about how excited everyone is about the future. I’ll have more to say about this in an upcoming Feature Article. Stay tuned and thanks for participating.

    Connecting small business, the economy and Washington

    The Great Recession ended in July 2009. In our online poll since then we’ve asked small business owners several times about their economy.

    Comparing responses from our poll at the end of 2011 with the one at the end of 2013, the groups experiencing sales growth went from 76% in 2011 to 48% in 2013, while the bottom half went from less than one-fourth having a tough time in 2011, to more than half reporting flat to negative sales in 2013. Small business reality has been steadily going in the wrong direction.

    We’ve also asked about small business projections for the coming year. In 2012, 73% were positive about the New Year, while the rest were uncertain. But one year later, in 2013, the responses essentially inverted: 24% positive, and 76% not so much. Recently we asked, “How are you projecting sales for 2014?” Only 20% are projecting a good year, with the other 80% projecting slight to flat to negative growth.

    As you can see, not only has actual business performance declined for our small business respondents, but optimism about the future is also going in the wrong direction, from 73% positive in 2012, to 24% positive in 2013, to 20% positive in 2014.

    For more than a decade on my radio program, I’ve reported monthly on two scientific small business surveys: Dr. Bill Dunkleberg’s NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Report (the 40-year gold standard), and the Tatum Index of Business Conditions. In terms of context, my “trends and conditions” poll responses have consistently aligned with the results of these two during the same periods.

    Here’s why all of this matters: Almost five years into a recovery, the economy should be growing at 4%, but is barely reaching 2%. And in December, economists expected 200,000 new jobs, but were shocked when only 74,000 were created.

    The small business sector produces over half of the U.S. economy and most of the net new jobs. If you’re wondering what happened to the missing 2% GDP and millions of new jobs, they’re lost in the production small businesses have not created since 2009.

    When we’ve asked about the single greatest thing holding small businesses back since 2009, the answer has been consistently and overwhelmingly “uncertainty” created by anti-business attitudes and policies coming out of Washington, like Obamacare and proposing a minimum wage increase.

    Small business owners are pathological optimists. But Washington has taken a toll on their reality and expectations—and by extension, the economy.

    In the 21st century, as small business goes, so goes America.


    Be sure to check out my latest segment on The Small Business Advocate Show® where I talk more in-depth about the economy and how small business effects it.

    Connecting the small business, government and the economy

    My latest book The Age of the Customer® is available at the following locations. Be sure to purchase your copy today to help your small business stay relevant.

    Recapping my 2013 Crystal Ball Predictions

    Let’s review my 2013 predictions, what happened and my score

    Prediction:The political class will claim “fiscal cliff” avoidance, but it’s more postponement than policy. Reality: The government was shut down again in October. Plus 1.

    Prediction:The 2013 economy will be held back by two government-created headwinds: tax increases and Obamacare. Reality: Dozens of tax increases took billions out of consumers’ pockets and Obamacare is a recurring budgeting nightmare. Plus 1.

    Prediction:Small business uncertainty about investing in growth will continue for the fifth consecutive year. Reality: The monthly NFIB Small Business Optimism Index shows continued business reluctance to hire, invest capital or borrow money for growth. Plus 1.

    Prediction: The NFIB Index will continue to be at or below the unprecedented 40-year historical low of 93 points in 2013, as it was in Obama’s first term. Reality: Through November, the average Index score was 92.3. Sadly, plus 1.

    Prediction: The unemployment rate will remain above 7%. Reality: While U-3 has recently fallen to almost 7%, the real unemployment condition (U6), remains in the teens. Plus 1.

    Prediction: GDP in 2013 will remain moribund, below 3%. Reality: GDP through October averaged 2.3%. Plus 1.

    Prediction: For the first time in history, the national debt will exceed GDP. Reality: 2013 GDP is $16.8 trillion, national debt is $17.2 trillion. Plus 1.

    Prediction: The U.S. credit rating will be reduced for the second time in history during the Obama presidency. Reality: While there were warnings, the rating did not drop. Minus 1.

    Prediction: State insurance exchanges, Obamacare platforms, will not be ready for the 2014 launch. Reality: The epic fail of the Obamacare launch is now the stuff of legend, including no access to exchanges for small businesses. Plus 1.

    Prediction: The 2014 Obamacare “guaranteed issue” mandate will artificially cause increases in 2013 health insurance premiums. Reality: All policies increased in the past year in anticipation of mandates, like pediatric dental, even if you don’t have kids. Plus 1.

    Prediction: While feckless and fecklesser – the U.S. and the U.N – watch, Iran will take the world across a nuclear Rubicon. Reality: The recent Geneva Accords not only didn’t stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but actually removed successful economic sanctions. Plus 1.

    Prediction: Alabama defeats Notre Dame in the BCS Championship game in Miami. Reality: Bama 42, Irish 14. Plus 1.

    That’s 11 of 12 this year, bringing my 13 year average to 72%. How’d you do?


    Be sure to listen to my latest segment from The Small Business Advocate Radio Show®. I recap all my predictions in more detail. Also subscribe to my newsletter below to get my 2014 predictions.

    Click here to subscribe to The Small Business Advocate Newsletter!

    SBA Poll: Who or what is responsible for the rise in gas prices

    The Question:
    Gasoline prices are up sharply and have doubled since Obama’s first election. Who or what is most responsible for this price hike?

    20% - No one person or thing. It’s just supply and demand

    13% - It’s the greedy oil industry - refiners, producers, OPEC

    42% - Obama’s green agenda and anti-carbon policies contribute to high gas prices

    24% - We’re all responsible because of our dependence on carbon fuel

    My Comments:
    The average price for gasoline in the U.S. has essentially doubled to almost $4 a gallon since President Obama began his first term. We wanted to know who you thought was the most responsible for this increase, so in our poll last week we gave you four possible options.

    As you can see, one-fifth of our sample thinks the price of gas is just market driven, with 13% blaming oil producing countries and corporations. Almost one-fourth of you allowed that our collective dependence on carbon fuel makes us all to blame for high gas prices. But the big group, 42%, puts the blame on President Obama and his ideology and policies.

    On that last response, there is precedent for a president’s behavior affecting oil prices. When crude prices last reached a high level, President George W. Bush merely announced his intention to encourage more oil drilling in the U.S. and prices dropped like a stone. I believe if Obama wanted lower gas prices, he could do something similar, like reverse his position on the Keystone pipeline and his opposition to drilling. Remember, Bush didn’t do anything different, he just announced his intentions. I think the president should give that “announce” thing a try, don’t you?

    Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

    SBA Poll: The likelihood of another recession

    The Question:
    The economy experienced negative growth in the 4th quarter. A recession is two negative quarters in a row. From your perspective, what is the likelihood of another recession?

    4% - Zero - It was just one bad quarter and won’t be repeated

    30% - 50% - This economy could go either way

    39% - 75% - This economy is very fragile

    26% - 100% - We may already be in a recession

    My Comments:
    Recently, we learned that GDP went negative in the fourth quarter of last year. There are many factors contributing to this drop in economic performance: decreasing defense spending, a drop in inventories and exports, Hurricane Sandy, and an election.

    That last point is arguably the thing that influenced almost every American the most. We had what I believe to have been the most emotional national election in my life, that didn’t go the way at least half of us wanted, and we knew that almost two months before the end of the quarter.

    A negative growth quarter in the U.S. is serious, since the definition of a recession is two consecutive negative quarters. So, when 96% of the sector that’s made up of the most pathologically optimistic of all humans - small business owners - say we have from a 50% to 100% chance of another recession, that’s not good news.

    Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

    Does the U.S. need another Jobs Council?

    Unemployment just went up – to 7.9%. The economy just went down – negative growth in the 4th quarter 2012. Consumer confidence (Conference Board) and small business optimism (NFIB) both are down.

    The government is experiencing annual operating deficits of over $1 trillion and the national debt, over $16 trillion, is on par with GDP. Let’s put that last number another way: if the U.S. were a business, it would owe as much as it sells.

    With this set of realities facing our nation, it’s interesting that President Obama chose to say very little about the economy in his second inaugural address, but did talk about his climate change agenda. We wanted to know what small business owners think about the president’s priorities, so last week we asked this question in our online poll: “The President said climate change will be a major focus of his second term. What do you think?” Here’s what we were told.

    Those who said, “I agree. Climate change is our greatest problem,” came in at 6%. The middle group, at 38%, believes the president “… should focus on economy recovery more than climate change.” And the rest, 56%, allowed that Mr. Obama “… should focus on the deficit and debt more than climate change.”

    Clearly President Obama is watching a different ballgame than 94% of small business owners, plus we just learned that his Jobs Council was disbanded after two years. This 25-member committee is noteworthy because of the make-up of the roster: big business CEOs (16), venture capitalists (3), academia (1), politics (1), union bosses (2), and 1 – count them, ONE – small business owner.

    That’s right, the group that signs the front of the largest batch of payroll checks (70 million) every week in America and has created almost every net new job for more than a generation was represented on the President’s Jobs Council by one very brave small business owner, Darlene Miller, CEO of Permac Industries, Burnsville, MN 55306. Permac has 30 employees.

    Miller has been a guest on my radio program and recently told me she believes the Jobs Council actually did create jobs. But if that’s true, with more than 20 million Americans still unemployed or underemployed, shouldn’t it still be in business?

    Well, the truth is the president doesn’t need a Jobs Council to create more jobs. He just needs to spend his efforts on policies that make America’s job creators think he’s watching the same ballgame as they are.

    Small business owners will create more jobs when the government stops acting like it’s working against them.


    Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I also talked about the lack of businesspeople in President Obama’s cabinet plus the failure of the Jobs Council with Rick Newmanchief business correspondent for U.S. News & World Report. Click on one of the links below to hear what he and I had to say. I’m also interested in what you think, so please leave a comment.

    Why no business people on Obama’s cabinet? with Rick Newman

    Obama is not watching the same ballgame as small businesses with Jim Blasingame

    Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Watch Jim’s videos HERE!