In its latest Small Business Optimism Index released Tuesday, the National Federation of Independent Business found small business owners' confidence has dropped in the wake of the November 2012 election, according to the survey.
The NFIB's Optimism Index fell 5.6 points, bottoming out at 87.5, one of the lowest readings in the history of the survey.
Only seven readings in the history of the monthly index were lower than November's - and all but one were in the last few months of 2008 and early 2009, during the depths of the recession.
Prior to 1986, when the survey was conducted on a quarterly basis, there were just two readings lower, one in the first quarter of 1975 and one in the second quarter of 1980.
The November survey is based on the responses of 733 randomly sampled small businesses that are part of the NFIB.
To disentangle sentiments about the election and Hurricane Sandy - the two major events in November - the NFIB excluded results from states affected by
Other findings from the survey:
-Owner's optimism about the future is down: The percentage of owners who said they're uncertain whether business condition will improve in six months reached an all-time low of 23 percent. Of those who said they were uncertain in October, 49 percent now expect business conditions to get worse in six months (up 30 points). Only 9 percent expect an improvement (down 5 points).
-Taxes, sales and regulations trump concerns over credit: Only 3 percent of owners reported that financing was their top business problem, whereas 23 percent cited taxes, 23 percent cited weak sales and 18 percent cited "unreasonable regulations and red tape." More than half of the surveyed owners explicitly said they do not want a loan.
-The percent of owners planning capital outlays in the next three to six months fell 3 points to 19 percent. Only 6 percent of owners said now was a good time to expand facilities (down 1).
Data for North Carolina-specific data isn't available, but Gregg Thompson, state director of NFIB/North Carolina, said what's happening locally is a reflection of the national trends.
"What's obvious is that nearly half of small-business owners believe things are going to get worse over the next 12 months, not better," Thompson said in a statement. "They don't believe
Washington is focused on
what's best for small business."
Download the complete study here.