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Storm Brewing? Owners Remain Cautious

Small business owners express concern about turmoil in Europe and slow growth in the U.S., according to the June SurePayroll small business survey.

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Summer is here. But summer often brings thunderstorms, as also appears to be the case with our economic climate. Results from the SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard showed hiring down 0.1% and paychecks up 0.1% in June, with 60% of small business owners still feeling optimistic.

Those numbers are similar to what we've seen most of 2012, but in addition the Scorecard survey also found that 80% of small business owners are now concerned about an economic slowdown because of turmoil in Europe and slow growth in the U.S.

The survey found 28% of small business owners saying it would have a negative impact on business if the Supreme Court ruled generally in favor of health care reform, which it did Thursday. Only 19% thought the ruling would have a positive effect.

What's clear is that small businesses remain cautious and are relying on existing workers to do more. Employees are working more hours than they used to and being more productive.

Optimism remains high, but clouds are building and small business owners are concerned--and rightfully so. This may cause more sluggishness on the hiring front, and a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to jobs and growth. Businesses are reluctant to hire, but it's hard to see a strong turn until they do start to do so.

It's been and will continue to be an exciting year, for better or worse. A presidential election looms, the economic situation in Europe changes every day, and we've just witnessed a monumental ruling on health care. It makes for a jam-packed news cycle, but hopefully we'll return to normalcy and a sunny forecast for small business soon.

Last updated: Jul 3, 2012

MICHAEL ALTER is president of SurePayroll, America’s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University.
@michaelalter




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