Survey finds small-business owners' optimism at a record high

Survey finds small-business owners' optimism at a record high
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A survey from Gallup and Wells Fargo released Tuesday found that small-business owners' optimism is at a record high.

The overall score in the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index for the third quarter of 2018 was 118, up from 106 in the second quarter and 107 in the first quarter. The latest score is the highest in the 15-year history of the survey, besting the previous high of 114 in 2006, Gallup said.

Seventy-eight percent of small-business owners said their current financial situation is very or somewhat good, up from 73 percent last quarter. Sixty-nine percent of respondents in the new survey said their cash flow in the past year was very or somewhat good, up from 63 percent.

The survey results caught the eye of Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRubio discovers Native American heritage through TV show Feminine hygiene products to be available to House lawmakers using congressional funds Former Ryan aide moves to K street MORE's (R-Wis.) office, which promoted the findings on social media and in an email to reporters.

Republicans are hoping that they will be helped in November's midterm elections by highlighting positive economic news and the tax law they passed in December. But Democrats have been attacking the tax cuts, which isn't widely popular with voters, as primarily beneficial for wealthy individuals and corporations. They've also been calling attention to a lack of significant wage growth.

The survey contained an open-ended question asking small-business owners to name their most important challenge. The top answer given was hiring, which was provided by 18 percent of respondents.

Twenty-six percent of small-business owners said that their companies have increased jobs in the past year, the highest percentage in the survey's history. Thirty-five percent of small-business owners said they expect the number of jobs at their companies to grow in the next year, Gallup said.

"Small-business owners are clearly feeling positive about their current situation — with record-high ratings on cash flows and overall improvements in their financial situation driving their optimism," Gallup researchers wrote. "Yet the improved economy has its downsides, manifested by owners' concerns over being able to find, hire and retain qualified employees." 

Gallup and Wells Fargo surveyed 604 small-business owners via telephone from July 11 to 18. The poll's margin of error is 4 percentage points.