Small-business owners are more confident about the economy than they were a year ago, according to a survey commissioned by Bank of America and released this week. More than half – 56% – of owners reported optimism about the U.S. economy, 11 percentage points higher than last year. The biannual survey, conducted by Braun Research, targeted 1,001 business owners and was conducted from late August through late September.
“We are happy to say that confidence in the economy has risen dramatically,” says small business executive Robb Hilson in a press release from Bank of America. “It’s at the highest levels we’ve seen since the survey began in 2012.”
Also positive is the high percentage of small-business owners who say they plan to hire during the next year: 67% have hiring plans, compared to 51% last year. Millennial business owners were the most likely to hire employees, with 80% expressing such plans. Loan demand is also up, which Hilson calls a “key indicator that our clients’ growth trajectory, as well as the overall health of our country’s economy, are on the right track.” The number of small-business owners who report having applied for a loan in the past two years has increased by more than 50% in the last 12 months, up from 29% to 44%.
Owners surveyed did express some lingering fears, concerned about the economic effects of the upcoming presidential election, and potential hikes to the minimum wage and interest rates.