California: Concerns over Trump presidency a drag on small business optimism?

Highlights:

  • California ranks #35 for small business optimism and #28 for hiring intent
  • Study shows correlations between optimism and intent to hire and expand
  • Election of new president is top concern for pessimistic California SMBs

Only 24% of California small business owners voted for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election compared to 41% of local merchants nationally. That disparity matters because California ranks #35 nationally in small business optimism, and the top reason for concern among those who are pessimistic about business in 2017 is the election of a new U.S. president.

These are a few key findings from a national small business sentiment survey we recently conducted to see what’s driving optimism or pessimism on Main Street, and what it means for the economy and politics. In California, where Hillary Clinton doubled Trump’s vote total in the popular election, anxiety and uncertainty about a new administration is likely impacting confidence among many local businesses.

Beyond political musings, these findings are important because our study found correlations between small business optimism and intentions to hire, give raises, provide employee benefits, and expand. In fact, small businesses that are optimistic about prospects are 3.5x more likely to hire and give raises this year, and pessimists are 6.5x more likely to cut staff and employee pay.

Accordingly, California ranks #28 nationally in hiring intent, with 22% of the state’s small businesses planning to add staff this year. The full state report (published below) also outlines top worries for California businesses, opinions on Obamacare repeal and tax reform, optimism and hiring intent in top cities, and much more.

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