Another day, another sign of apprehension from business owners.
The bank's findings are consistent with numerous surveys in the past few weeks that show business owners are questioning their outlook for the year ahead, as well as the ongoing strength of the recovery in the face of a global economic slowdown.
Forty-eight percent of respondents said they thought the economy was in a recovery, a decrease of nine percentage points compared with 2015. Looking ahead, 37 percent said they thought the recovery would continue in the coming year, down eight percentage points from 2015.
Strangely, 31 percent of respondents said they thought the economy was in a recession--nearly twice the percentage in 2015--even though there has not been a recession since 2009. Ross Carey, U.S. Bank's head of small business banking, said the increase is likely the result of the survey sample, which includes many rural entrepreneurs who may not have experienced the recovery to the same degree that urban entrepreneurs have.
The dimming outlook also has bled into hiring plans. A quarter of entrepreneurs surveyed said they had plans to hire in the coming year, which is flat compared with 2015.
The report is not all bad news, however. About three quarters of entrepreneurs ranked the fiscal health of their companies as strong, about the same as 2015. And 46 percent said they expected higher revenues for next year, an increase of seven percentage points from the 2015 survey.
Topping the list of concerns for 2016 was economic uncertainty, reported by 16 percent of respondents. Competition from large businesses came in second, noted by 13 percent. Notably, half as many entrepreneurs said they are concerned about health care costs compared with 2015, with six percent reporting it as a top impediment to growth.
U.S. Bank polled 3,233 owners of businesses with annual revenue of less than $10 million, between January and February 2016. The poll was an online sample.