Data from the 2019 Q4 MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index (Index) indicates that employers are experiencing record high levels of confidence about their businesses and financial future.
The overall Index score increased again this quarter to 71.3, up 0.6 points from Q3, marking the highest number since the Index’s inception, the chamber reported in a Dec. 4 news release.
The survey of 1,000 small business owners shows that more than 71% currently have a “strong outlook” on the small business environment and optimism about their own business health, the highest level recorded in the Index since it began in 2017. In addition, the number of small business owners who have a positive outlook on their local economies has increased three percentage points from Q3 to 59%. More than half (57%) believe that the U.S. economy is in good health, continuing an overall positive trend since Q1 2019 (53%).
Midwest small businesses rank the most optimistic concerning the national economy with 62% of business owners believing the economy to be in good health.
One in five (20%) of small businesses report increasing their staff size over the past year, the highest percentage in the Index’s history. Hiring plans also showed interesting trends with 36% of minority-owned small businesses having plans to grow staff compared to 27% of non-minority owned businesses. More than half (51%) of millennial owned businesses have plans to grow their staff. In comparison, 25% of Baby Boomer generation or older owners have plans to increase staff.