Small Business Optimism Plunges in September, Finds JCNF Monthly Monitor Poll


October 13, 2021

Washington, D.C. (October 13, 2021)—Today, the Job Creators Network Foundation (JCNF) released its September Monthly Monitor poll of 500 small business owners. The poll’s Small Business Intelligence Quotient (SBIQ), an index tracking overall small business optimism, declined for the second month in a row to 56.3—a record series low. It’s clear small business owners are growing increasingly concerned about deteriorating economic conditions triggered by high inflation and looming tax hikes.

Meanwhile, inflation and consumer spending continue to weigh on the minds of entrepreneurs as their biggest concerns. Disapproval of proposed Biden tax increases is also growing among small business owners, with 60 percent of respondents saying the changes will hurt Main Street. Other key takeaways include:

  • In September, small business optimism about the economy took a big hit. Only 32 percent of small business owners consider the current economy excellent or good with 68 percent rating it fair or poor. This is a drop of 12 points since August’s poll.
  • Respondents also felt worse about the business climate and conditions for small businesses, with 38 percent saying the climate was getting worse and only 30 percent saying it was getting better. This represents a seventeen-point net shift from August numbers.
  • Small business owners continue to be concerned about inflation. More than 32 percent of small businesses named inflation as their biggest or second biggest concern right now. A related issue—the economy and client spending—was named by 25 percent as their biggest or second-biggest concern right now.
  • 81 percent of small businesses are concerned about increasing Covid-related mandates and restrictions, a five-point jump from August.

View more polling details and crosstabs here.

Elaine Parker, JCNF President, released the following statement:

New government data released last week is further proof that inflation is becoming unhinged. Year-over-year price increases hit a 30-year high and are eating into family budgets. September’s polling confirms those price pressures are creeping up on Main Street as well—raising the cost of doing business. It’s having a depressing effect on the small business community. Higher prices combined with looming tax hikes and the threat of deputizing business owners as the healthcare police have squashed the optimism of entrepreneurs. Biden’s war on small business is raging. Americans need to stand up and fight back.