Under Trump, SMB Optimism Peaks

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A new survey shows that small business confidence is soaring thanks to a strong economy.

The CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey polled more than 2,000 small business owners from July 27 through August 5. Its Confidence Index is calculated on a scale from 0–100 and is based on the responses to eight key questions.

In this latest quarterly survey, the index hit a record high of 62, tied with results from the first quarter of 2018.

Overall, 58 percent of respondents say business conditions are “good,” up from 53 percent last quarter and up from 39 percent a year ago. The percentage has been steadily climbing every quarter, starting at 38 percent in Q2 of 2017.

Meanwhile, only six percent of small business owners say that current conditions are bad (down from 11 percent a year ago) and 41 percent say conditions are middling (down from 51 percent).

In addition, around 33 percent of small business owners expect to hire additional full-time workers this year, seven percentage points higher than a year ago, and also a new high mark. Part of those hiring expectations are due to the struggles some small businesses have had filling open positions. In fact, 16 percent of small business owners say they have positions that they have been unable to fill for at least three months.

“This feels like a much more solid footing because of the assessment of how things are going today for small businesses, with 58 percent saying conditions are ‘good,’” said Jon Cohen, chief research officer for SurveyMonkey. “Some of this is because of opinions of President Trump, with 57 percent saying they approve of the job he is doing. But really it’s the underlying business conditions that have been improving steadily throughout his term.”

The survey also found that in the last quarter of 2017, small business owners were split evenly on a core index question about the effect that the Trump administration’s new tax policy would have on their business. But now, twice as many expect those changes to have a positive effect on their businesses.

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