The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s latest quarterly small business survey finds that Washington policies continue to hamper hiring and growth, with over a quarter of small businesses saying they have lost employees in the last year. The survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive in March 2013 among more than 1,300 small business executives, shows that 79 percent of small businesses believe the economy is off on the wrong track and requirements of the health care law are now the biggest concern, topping economic uncertainty for the first time in two years. Thirty-one percent plan to cut back hours to reduce the number of full time employees to avoid triggering the employer mandate.
Small business owners voiced support for policies that will promote economic growth and remove government barriers, including lowering taxes, increasing domestic energy production, and tackling immigration reform. Two-thirds of respondents said that immigration reform would increase America’s global competitiveness and help strengthen our economy.
“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,” said Dr. Martin Regalia, the chamber’s chief economist. “In today’s economy, we need policies that will breed confidence and encourage small businesses to expand, not cut back staff and employees’ hours.”
Among the key findings:
* 79 percent of small businesses still think the American economy is off on the wrong track, and 27 percent lost employees in the last year.
* 87 percent of small business owners are looking for more certainty compared to 5 percent looking for assistance.
* 86 percent of small businesses disapprove of the job the Senate Democrat majority is doing, compared to 46 percent who disapprove of the House
* Two-thirds (66 percent) agree that immigration reform will help strengthen the U.S. economy and increase America’s global competitiveness.
* 78 percent of small businesses surveyed view the debt and deficit as a threat to the success of their business.
* 77 percent of small businesses see higher energy prices as an immediate threat to their business, and 80 percent do not believe the Administration is doing enough to keep gas prices low, increase domestic energy sources, or develop an energy policy that supports American jobs.
* Eight out of 10 small businesses (79 percent) support comprehensive tax reform and over half (52 percent) indicated that the tax code should be made less complex.
* 84 percent say that regulations, restrictions, and taxes negatively impact their ability to do business.
* 76 percent of small businesses surveyed are organized as pass-through entities, which pay taxes on business income at the individual tax rate.
* Requirements of the health care law are now the biggest concern for small businesses, having bumped economic uncertainty from the top spot which it has held for the last two years.
* 77 percent say the health care law will make coverage for their employees more expensive, and 71 percent say the law makes it harder for them to hire more employees.
* 32 percent of small businesses plan to reduce hiring as a result of the employer mandate, and 31 percent will cut back hours to reduce full time employees.