WASHINGTON, D.C. — Data from the Q3 MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index indicates that employers are experiencing high levels of confidence about the state of their local economies and their financial future.
The index overall score increased yet again this quarter to 70.7, up two percentage points from Q2, marking the highest number since its inception.
This indicates that nearly 71 percent of U.S. small business owners currently have a positive outlook on their companies’ financial future and business environment.
Results from the survey of 1,000 small business owners showed an upward trend in confidence across the board, and more than a five point uptick from Q1 2019.
Not only are small business owners confident about the national economy, they are also optimistic about their local economic outlook.
More than half of small business owners (56 percent) report their local economy is in good health, the largest percentage since Q4 2018.
“Strong local economies have a ripple effect and create stronger state, regional and national economies,” Jessica Moser, senior vice president and head of MetLife’s Group Benefits Small & Specialty Business organization, said. “Increased small business confidence will allow them to continue to hire and to invest in their businesses, which ultimately helps everyone.”
This quarter’s index casts a spotlight on veteran-owned businesses and the employment of veterans by small businesses.
Veteran-owned businesses share the optimism of their peers in the strength of the economy.
Almost a third of these businesses (31 percent) plan to increase investment in the next year, five percentage points higher than the national average (26 percent).
One in three of these businesses reported that securing financing or accessing capital was the largest hurdle in starting their business.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy,” Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said. “It’s important that we provide them with a sense of certainty and work towards finding solutions that enable business growth and create an environment where Main Street businesses can continue to thrive.”
Both veteran-owned and non-veteran owned businesses agree that it is important to focus more on hiring veterans.
While approximately 80 percent of small businesses support hiring veterans, about half (46 percent) report that they have ever hired a veteran.
When it comes to intentionally recruiting veterans, 23 percent of veteran-owned small businesses report doing so, versus 10 percent of other small businesses.
Veteran-owned businesses are more likely to report that they have hired veterans, with 59 percent of veteran-owned small businesses saying they have hired military veterans, compared to 46 percent of non-veteran-owned small businesses who say the same.
“Veterans are proven learners with a passion for teamwork and a commitment to results,” Joe Shamess, co-Founder and owner of veteran-owned Flags of Valor, said. “Every sailor, soldier, airman and marine entered military service needing to learn the basic skills of the armed forces and the advanced skills to support dynamic missions. Additionally, many of them have even succeeded at their missions in combat environments. Employing and empowering veterans is what we are all about. It’s a win-win for businesses and their communities.”
The Index results show that 88 percent of small business owners assert that there should be more formal workplace programs to support re-entrance into the civilian workforce.
From a regional and industry standpoint, leaders in hiring veterans are businesses in the American South (51 percent have hired veterans) and manufacturing (63 percent have done so).