Small business owners bearish on the economy, poll finds

The results show that 78 percent of small business respondents say the economy will either remain stagnant or get worse over the next twelve months. Sixty-four percent of voters agreed with that assessment, according to an Aug. 10 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. 

The Chamber survey discovered that lawsuits -- not impending tax increases or increased regulation -- are a major concern for small business owners. Seventy-eight percent said that if Congress allowed trial lawyers to bring more lawsuits it would have a negative impact on the economic climate affecting businesses. In addition, 92 percent say the poor economy has made it more difficult for their company to absorb the additional costs, time and other issues related to a lawsuit. 

"This poll reveals that there is a lot of fear among business owners in this current economic climate," said Chamber executive vice president Lisa Rickard in prepared remarks. 

"Our economy is in trouble and lawsuits are only making matters worse for America's small business owners and the communities that rely on them to create jobs," Rickard said. "Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, creating two-thirds of all new jobs in the United States, yet many small businesses hold a startlingly grim assessment of their futures."

The poll shows that 32 percent of business owners say they are not confident in the future of their own company. Additionally, approximately 7 in 10 small business owners say that a lawsuit or the potential for a lawsuit translates to increased costs that would make them cut back on benefits for existing workers and pass cost those costs on to their customers.  

The poll tapped the opinions of 1,000 small business owners between Aug. 19 - 31 and was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Douglas Schoen LLC.