The markets may have seen movement in October but Main Street hasn't. The SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard results are in, showing near flat month-over-month small business hiring and paycheck increases – 0.1 percent in each category. That brings us to a 4.3 percent year-to-date increase in hiring and a 0.6 percent increase in wages.
According to our sentiment survey, the number of business owners who indicate that they feel optimistic about the small business economy remains low, at 57 percent.
So for the month of October, the economy hasn't changed, Main Street sentiment hasn't changed, but I bet there will be plenty of change when midterm election polls close on Tuesday.
If business owners are like investors, healthcare providers, labor union leaders and a myriad of other people with vested interest in our policies, they're probably anxiously awaiting the results to see how their businesses – or sentiment – will fare in 2011.
Regardless of which party business owners support, the bottom line is that they are a passionate group when it comes to politics. Despite that, they're not shouting their preferences from the rooftops…or from the office lawn or walls.
With the upcoming election, SurePayroll put out a poll about mixing business and politics. I wanted to know: Are business owners passionate enough about getting out the vote that they'll promote their candidates through their businesses?
The results clearly show that business owners know how to separate church and state. While 40 percent indicate that they prefer to do business with those who hold the same political view, the vast majority of those with the opportunity to display political signs or posters at their business don't.
It's really not all that surprising. I take comfort in knowing that few businesses bring politics into the workplace. But it does bring up the question: Are they leveraging their positions as a group to lobby for what they need? Given the fact that they make up 99 percent of this country's employers and the majority of all job growth over the last 50 years, it would be shame if they kept their opinions concealed when it comes supporting the candidates that support small business.
I suspect that this group gets out the vote – and their wallets – in big ways. I've never known business owners to sit back and let things just happen – it's not in the entrepreneurial DNA. In fact, a recent survey by Sage reveals that 93 percent of business owners will vote in the midterm versus 37 percent of all US voters who showed up in 2006's election. Let's hope that Tuesday's results reflect the majority voice of our small business owners and help bring us back to growth and optimism.
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