Business Categories Reports Podcasts Events Awards Webinars
Contact My Account About

Small Business Confidence in the US Economy Grows

Published April 14, 2024
Published April 14, 2024
Mike Petrucci via Unsplash

Small businesses’ views on the health of their own business remain positive. The Q1 MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, which measures small business owner confidence, ticked up one point to 62.3 as more small business owners see an improving economy.

“Small businesses’ perceptions of the economy are drifting upward, but they are still facing persistent headwinds,” said Tom Sullivan, Vice President of Small Business Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Many business owners have continued to struggle with high prices and rising wages despite indications that inflation is easing. And despite recent positive jobs reports, many small businesses have had unfilled job openings for several years.” 

  • 32% of small business owners now say the US economy is in good health, up seven percentage points from last quarter. 
  • 38% say their local economy is in good health, up eight percentage points from the end of 2023. 
  • About two-thirds of small businesses say the overall health of their business is good (65%) and that they are comfortable with their current cash flow (67%). 
  • Overall perception of the economy remains muted: nearly half of small businesses continue to feel the economy is in poor health.
  • Small businesses remain concerned about inflation—this is the seventh consecutive quarter that over half (52%) of small businesses cite inflation as a top challenge.
  • Concern for revenue rose 7% this quarter, with 29% saying revenue is a top challenge, returning to a level of concern last recorded in late 2021.

“It is encouraging to see the majority of small business owners are satisfied with their business’s health and their current cash flow, despite ongoing concerns around inflation,” says Cynthia Smith, SVP, Head of Regional Business at MetLife. “These trends convey a sense of optimism for the future and, once again, underscore the adaptability and determination shown by small business owners in challenging economic environments.”

For small businesses, cybersecurity and supply chains top the list of future threats and are a focus of crisis planning. Small businesses say they are most concerned about:  

  • 60% cybersecurity 
  • 58% supply chain breakdowns 
  • 54% pandemic occurring in the future 
  • 45% inclement weather 
  • 42% theft
  • 39% natural disasters 
  • 37% act of terrorism
  • 71% of small businesses say they are adequately prepared for future threats.
  • 80% say they have a clear idea of how to change their business if it starts to struggle, which is up 13% from Q4 2020 (67%), but 6% under Q2 2018 levels.
  • 23% say they are very prepared for cybersecurity threats, versus 50% who feel somewhat prepared. 
  • The gap is larger in preparedness for a supply chain breakdown—14% very prepared, 47% somewhat prepared.
  • 62% are contributing to rainy-day funds to address potential threats.
  • 56% are installing surveillance precautions.
  • 48% are training staff on cybersecurity measures. 
  • 38% are taking out insurance in case of natural disaster. 
  • 35% are building out existing supply chains.

“Fortunately, we don’t worry too much about natural disasters in Chicago, but cybersecurity is another story. We have taken several steps to boost security,” says Philip Preston, President of PolyScience in Niles, Illinois. “This includes daily offsite backup, two-factor authentication for remote access, contracting an outside firm to test our cybersecurity monthly, and purchasing cyber insurance.”

The MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index is part of a multiyear collaboration by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to elevate the voice of America’s small business owners and highlight the important role they play in the nation’s economy.


2 Article(s) Remaining

Subscribe today for full access