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Businesses are confident in Trump's economy – but challenges still loom

Tuesday, September 11, 2018  
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US small business

Businesses are confident in Trump's economy – but challenges still loom

Gene Marks

 Donald Trump and Jerome Powell, chairman of the Federal Reserve, at the White House on 2 November 2017.


Small business owners have been experiencing a ‘record high’ since Trump took office. It wouldn’t be a shock to see this dampening in quarters to come, however



Sun 9 Sep 2018 06.00 EDT

One thing’s for sure: small businesses are definitely feeling optimistic.

Ever since Donald Trump took office in early 2017 there have been dozens of surveys reporting increased confidence among small business owners in the economy. Just last month the National Federation of Independent Businessessaid that the confidence level of the small businesses it surveyed were at its second highest level in the 45-year history of their monthly index. A recent CNBC/SurveyMonkey survey also reported "record high” levels of small business confidence in July.

Now, the US Chamber of Commerce is weighing in. The chamber, which represents about 3 million businesses nationwide, publishes a quarterly Small Business Index with insurance firm MetLife. Its latest report, released last week, showed that almost 70% of small business owners have a positive outlook about their companies and the small business environment in the US. It’s the sixth consecutive quarter in a row that the report showed an increase and a jump of more than seven percentage points since the beginning of the year. (The US chamber is a client of my firm, The Marks Group, but I have received no compensation from them for this report.)

"Small business owners continue to tell us that they are confident in the national small business environment, and, just as encouraging, most have confidence in their local environments as well,” Jessica Moser, a senior vice-president at MetLife, said in their joint report. "This bodes well for the US economy, as small businesses are consistently an engine for growth all across the country: purchasing equipment and inventory, paying taxes, and employing ever-increasing numbers of individuals.”

Yes, this is good news for the economy. Small businesses employ about half of the workers in the country and their continued success means more growth and of course more jobs. But although the surveys say things are just fine, there are still significant challenges that concern many of us.

For example, finding and keeping good people tops the list of our biggest problems this year. A strong economy has unfortunately revealed a gap in positions filled versus people available and that’s mostly due to two big factors: a significant amount of workers who lack skills and need training and a precipitous decline in immigrant workers who usually filled low-level jobs thanks to the tightening of immigration policies. The lack of a skilled workforce – or just available workers – has created an enormous headache for most of the clients I work with.

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