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Majority of small business owners rate economy highly; one-third say recession imminent


Small business owners showed continued optimism for their businesses and the U.S. economy in the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index. Respondents also signaled which issues are most important to them in next year’s elections.

Conducted Sept. 30–Oct. 4, the survey showed a six-point increase in overall optimism. The majority of owners — 69% — said their issues are not being discussed on the campaign trail.

Optimism from business owners about their present and future financial situations saw slight increases, with scores of 67 and 75 respectively. More than 80% of owners said their current financial situation was somewhat or very good, while 85% said the same would be the case 12 months from now.

When asked about the current state of the U.S. economy, 63% rated it as either good or excellent (representing a 7-point decrease from last quarter), and 56% agreed that the economy was on the right track for business growth over the next 12 months.

One indicator tempering this optimism is that a third of business owners (33%) said an economic downturn is either “very” or “extremely” likely in the next 12 months, though two-thirds said they are somewhat or very prepared for such an occurrence.

The survey also delved into business owner sentiment concerning the upcoming 2020 elections. When asked what impact the winner of the presidential election would have on their business, more than half (51%) described it as major, 37% said minor and 12% said not much at all. When asked if candidates in the 2020 presidential election were discussing issues most important to them, more than two-thirds (69%) said they were not.

When asked to identify issues they most wanted to candidates to address, business owners highlighted taxes (21%), health care (11%) and the economy (10%) as their top priorities. Other national issues such as immigration (4%), climate change (3%) and national security (2%) were less highly emphasized.

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