Small Business Owners See Drop in Optimism

The recovering economy has been a boon to many small business owners across the country over the last few years, and as a consequence many are now feeling much better about their chances for success going forward than they were just a few years ago. However, things have apparently been a little more questionable in recent months, and as a result optimism finally took a bit of a dip in August.

The overall optimism on hiring among small business owners slipped very slightly to a level of 100.99 last month, but also marked the third decline in the last four such periods, according to the latest Paychex/IHS Small Business Jobs Index. However, that number was also up 0.2 percent from the same time a year earlier, and levels remain above those seen even prior to the nation’s economic downturn several years ago.

“Although the Paychex/IHS Small Business Jobs Index continues to show positive year-over-year growth, the short-term trend has declined 0.16 percent in the past three months,” said James Diffley, chief regional economist at IHS. “As most other employment indicators accelerated over the summer, it appears that small businesses may have been on the front end of that trend, in the spring, with the index reaching its peak level in April 2014.”

A regional look
Interestingly, it seems that only two parts of the country were actually in the negative during the month of August, but their power in the market is so significant that it brought the entire country down, the report said. These two areas – states bordering the Pacific Ocean, and New England – came in with jobs declines of 0.62 percent and 0.32 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the Mountain region, as well as the East South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama) had increases of 1.66 percent and 1.25 percent, respectively.

Further, the city with the highest small business jobs numbers overall was Dallas, with Houston not far behind, the report said. These were the only two major metro areas in the U.S. with indexes north of 103. Meanwhile, regional neighbors Baltimore and Washington, D.C., had the two lowest scores among the 20-largest cities, both at less than 99.

Owners who want to prepare their companies to take on more workers might want to consider the ways in which cutting ongoing costs can help. For example, by finding more affordable small business insurance – including liability insurance – companies might be able to save thousands annually.