US Small Business Never Recovered From the Great Recession

By Walter Kurtz, Sober Look

US small business optimism continues to improve gradually, but still remains at recessionary levels. One of the big problems for small businesses remains the uncertainty in future economic conditions. 23% of survey respondents say they have no clue what to expect from the economy going forward. That’s the highest level of uncertainty since the Jimmy Carter administration.

And as discussed earlier (see post), uncertainty can materially inhibit economic growth.

Credit conditions don’t seem to be a problem in part due to the lack of demand. With uncertainty at such high levels, the last thing a number of small businesses want to do is increase debt levels.

Weak sales are the number one single issue cited in the survey, but regulation and taxes are still a major concern for US small business – which of course contributes to more uncertainty.

DB: – Together, government requirements and taxes are cited by 39% of small businesses as their biggest problem among the eight remaining components. While this is down from 42% in September, it is clearly an elevated reading that likely needs to fall substantially further for small business confidence to ultimately trend higher.

Just to put things in perspective, small businesses represent half the private GDP and half the private workforce in the US. That explains in part the anemic economic growth in the US over the last several years.


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Sober Look

Sober Look

Sober Look was founded by Walter Kurtz, a New York based hedge fund manager and credit markets specialist.

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  • Anonymous

    What is needed is a redefinition of economic growth to be measured by rising purchasing power of wages rather than by nominal GDP increases.

  • Blobby

    Hmm, economics is largely based on human behaviour.

    Id rather suggest that economic growth is better defined as increasing human well being. As defined perhaps in more emotional terms if thats possible. Happiness etc.

    Numbers are meaningless.

  • Mikael Olsson

    Funny how taxes “seem” to be the biggest problem since the recession started… when they’ve actually been GOING DOWN for small businesses.

    The way I see it, it says more about opinion-making than actual facts.

    I wonder if “people aren’t buying enough” is an option in the questionnaire. I suspect not.