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Small-Business Owners See Little Improvement

WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- The National Small Business Association has released its midyear economic report. And as the Magic 8-Ball would say: "Outlook not so good."

Based on a survey of 400 small-business owners, the semi-annual report found that only 11% have hired workers in the past year, 25% have cut jobs and 41% say they are unable to secure adequate financing.

"Today, more small businesses are unable to get financing than at any time in the last 17 years," said Todd McCracken, president of the Washington-based advocacy group, in a statement. "Given the direct correlation between access to capital and job growth, unless small-business owners are able to secure financing, we will continue to see high unemployment."

More figures from the report: 73% of the respondents cited economic uncertainty as their top concern, up from 64% in December; 44% don't expect any growth opportunities in the coming year; and 45% believe the economy is worse now than it was a year ago. The report says 59% feel confident about the future of their businesses, down from 61% in December.

That said, only 25% predicted decreases in revenue for the next 12 months, down from 31% in December. And there were more businesses reporting higher revenue since the last report -- 26% this month, compared with 22% in December.

With regard to health care, 24% of the businesses reported that rising insurance costs have led to a reduction in work force, up from 20% in December. As for health-care reform, the majority of respondents acknowledged confusion. Only 10% reported that they qualified for the small-business health care tax credit, while 52% said they weren't sure. In general, 21% reported a clear understanding of the Healthcare Reform Bill, while 79% said they don't understand how it will affect their business.

"Given that this survey is among NSBA members who are active in the association and have been offered a good deal of education on the new law, this level of understanding is likely lower among all U.S. small businesses," the report says.

-- Reported by Carmen Nobel in Boston.

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