Every-Four-Year Study: Health Insurance, Labor, and Taxes Remain Top Issues for Small Business Owners

Date: August 19, 2020

Small Business Problems & Priorities, 10th Edition

 NFIB has released the 10th edition of its popular report: Small Business Problems and Priorities.

This report is issued every four years by the NFIB Research Center. It is the most comprehensive guide to what America’s small businesses need to succeed. The 2020 report is based on a nationwide survey of small business owners, providing a window onto what Main Street thinks about 75 critical topics.

The last edition, issued in 2016, helped pave the way for the historic tax cuts of 2017 – tax cuts that brought historic relief and historic to small businesses nationwide.

In announcing the 2020 report, NFIB President Brad Close said: “Although the government shutdowns and coronavirus pandemic have fundamentally shaken the small business economy, we know that even during historic small business expansions, owners consistently face many of the same problems,” said NFIB President Brad Close. “As small business goes, so goes the economy.  While small businesses were setting records for growth, job creation, and optimism, healthcare costs, and government regulations were constant pain points.”

This report will help state and federal lawmakers prioritize pro-small business legislation in the years ahead. Based on its findings as well as the NFIB member balloting process, NFIB will vigorously advocate for the public policies our members need – policies that will strengthen small businesses, their communities, and the entire country.

Here are some of the most important findings in NFIB’s 2020 Small Business Problems and Priorities.

Biggest Issue: The Cost Health Insurance

The “cost of health insurance” remains the number one problem for small businesses, unchanged since 1986. Fifty-one percent of owners find the “cost of health insurance” a critical problem. The number one ranking is reflected in all 46 sub-categories of businesses analyzed in this survey.

Health insurance costs for small firms have risen 43 percent in the last decade. Facing this unaffordable climb, some small businesses have cut their health insurance program, delayed the benefit until they can afford it, and been priced out from ever offering insurance. This trend is reflected in the decline of small businesses offering health insurance from 41 percent in 2009 to its current rate of 30 percent.

Without a major refocus of current thinking on how to lower health care costs, the cost of health insurance will almost certainly be the most critical business problem facing small-business owners again in four years.   

Second Biggest Issue: Locating Qualified Employees

“Locating qualified employees” moved up in importance from ranking 10th in 2016 to its current second place ranking. This is largely due to the unemployment rate being at historic low levels the last two years, during which time businesses struggled to fill positions. The percent of owners finding it a critical problem increased from 24% in 2016 to 31% in 2020.

While the coronavirus has caused a spike in unemployment rates, this issue will not go away. Small businesses will continue to experience difficulties finding the workers they need to grow and flourish.

Third, Fourth, Eight, and Ninth Biggest Issues: Taxes

Fewer small business owners find various types of taxes as “critical” issues than in 2016, thanks to the passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. But two state specific tax issues did move up in the ranking.

This year’s report found that “Property Taxes” and “State Taxes on Business Income” moved up in the ranking from 2016, whereas the other tax-related issues either remained in their same ranking position or declined. Tax reform continues to be a priority for NFIB at every level of government.

The Voice of Small Business

The 2020 Small Business Problems and Priorities is a snapshot of the most important issues that the White House, Congress and state government must address. As the voice of small business, NFIB will fight tirelessly on their behalf.

To download NFIB’s 2020 Small Business Problems and Priorities report, please click here.

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