No Obama "Optimism Bump" for America's Small Businesses

Last Updated Dec 9, 2008 11:00 AM EST

Wall Street supposedly liked President-Elect Obama's massive public works proposal yesterday, according to USA Today. News of Mr. Obama's spending plans as well as the anticipated Big Three auto bailout sent the Dow up almost 3.5 points.

But a newly released national survey by City Business Journals Network suggests the hopemonger's victory has not yet brought much confidence to the small business sector. The nationwide survey covered 1,700 owners, presidents and CEOs of businesses with one to 499 employees and was conducted Nov. 17-23.

Here are its findings, relayed from BizJournals:

  • Eighty-two percent of those surveyed in November said the financial meltdown had affected their business. In the prior survey, taken in October as the $700 billion financial bailout plan made its way through Congress, 73 percent said they had been affected.
  • Another 80 percent said they were "very concerned" about the U.S. economy, with 62 percent blaming bankers and sub-prime lenders for the economic mess.
  • When asked how they expected things to shake out at their own companies in the next 12 months, 37 percent said "a little better" or "a lot better" -- a slight erosion from October (after the bailout was announced but before the presidential election) when 40 percent were optimistic. When asked that same question back in January, 78 percent of respondents were bullish.
  • Business owners by and large don't expect a quick turnaround. On average, they expect the economy to take 2.4 years to turn around.
  • Thirty-seven percent expect their business prospects to get worse, while 26 percent expect prospects to remain the same.
  • A substantial minority, 41 percent, were "very concerned" about the long-term survival of their own companies. That's actually a more encouraging number than it was back in January, at what we now know was the early stage of what has been a year-long recession. Then, 47 percent were "very concerned" about long-term survival. But the number has grown since October, when only 35 percent rated themselves "very concerned."
  • About the only significant bright spot came in the area of energy costs. Concern over rising energy costs has declined as the price of oil has fallen. Forty-five percent were "very concerned," down from 77 percent in June, when the average price for a gallon of gas was $4.10.
To be fair, the survey was conducted at the end of November. Have Mr. Obama's recent moves increased the economic confidence of small business owners?