Washington: Business regulation concerns weighing heavy

Highlights:

  • Business regulations are a big concern for Washington entrepreneurs
  • The state is currently enjoying high levels of small business optimism
  • If confidence stays high, small businesses could hire tens of thousands of employees in 2017

During its latest session, the Washington State Legislature passed a law that by 2020 will require every employer, including very small local businesses, to provide paid family and medical leave to company employees.

The law has been met with controversy, as residents of the Evergreen State debate the balance between protecting employee interests and ensuring that local businesses can remain competitive. This is a big deal, since Washington state’s 555,000 small businesses employ 1.3 million people.

Beyond this particular legislation, the issue of business regulation looms large for Washington. We recently polled small business owners in all 50 states, and we found that the biggest reasons for pessimism among concerned Washington merchants are the state and federal regulatory environment. Clearly, local businesses in the Pacific Northwest are taking note of how the business environment at the local and national levels might impact their daily livelihoods.

The stakes are big. On the topic of small business optimism, Washington ranks #17 nationally, according to our study, with 6.3 optimistic owners for every pessimistic one. That optimism translates into nearly 1 in 4 small business owners planning to hire new staff in 2017, which could have a massive impact on the state’s economy.

The key will be maintaining a high confidence level for local business merchants. Our study revealed a strong correlation between optimism and intentions to hire and increase employee wages. Conversely, we found that pessimistic owners are 6.5x more likely to cut staff and wages.

Time will tell if Washington can maintain high levels of optimism for Main Street merchants. Read our full report to learn more about the sentiments of the state’s local business owners.

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