“Any policy should be evaluated as ‘how will this impact small business optimism?’ and ‘how will this impact consumer confidence?’”
The small business half of the economy is extremely important to the nation’s economic recovery, and Main Street is battling rising inflation and labor shortages. To avoid worsening current conditions for small business, NFIB and small business owners across the nation are urging the Biden Administration and Congress to evaluate any policy with questions like ‘how will this impact small business optimism?’ and ‘how will this impact consumer confidence?’
In a recent segment on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, NFIB Vice President of Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman discussed some of the issues impacting small businesses right now.
“Small businesses are flashing yellow warning lights,” Kuhlman explained. “The small business half of the economy is extremely important to the economic recovery. Our research shows that inflation is really taking its toll on small businesses. It’s the top small business problem for one-third of small business owners – a year ago it was low single digits. That’s in addition to workforce shortages, supply chain disruptions, and it’s really concerning that as our research shows, expectations for better business conditions in six months are the lowest they’ve been in the nearly 50-year survey.”
There are many factors that go into inflation and how it impacts small businesses. “The input costs, fuels prices, and energy prices are really increasing costs and forcing business owners to increase their prices. Most business owners have increased more than 10% and are revisiting those price increases much more frequently to keep up with their inflationary pressures.”
Kuhlman expressed ideas for some things that could be done in the short term by the Administration to provide relief. “Taking a look at energy policy and trying to rein in energy prices both in the production and distribution of gasoline and fuel, as well as looking at the price. NFIB has supported the state level suspension, or gas tax holidays. There has been some initial discussion at the federal level. It seems that it hasn’t caught fire, we realize there would be some longer-term consequences of suspending the gas tax, but it would certainly be something our members would be open to.”
Small business optimism is now at its lowest level since April 2020, and business owners don’t expect much to change in the next six months which could cause fallout for some businesses.
“At a minimum they’re not going to grow, not going to invest in their business, and not going to hire new employees. So, I think everyone’s at a standstill or a pause right now. But the fear is, if the economy does worsen, if we do get into a longer recession then comes layoffs, then comes even more problematic issues,” Kuhlman warned.
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“Without a strong, robust, small business recovery there won’t be a wide-ranging general economic recovery,” added Kuhlman. “So, it’s very important to focus on this stuff, do no harm, and hopefully we have some light at the end of the tunnel, and we can overcome these economic headwinds.”