Illinois small business owners are less optimistic about their local economy than their national counterparts, according to results of the 2014 U.S. Bank Small Business Annual Survey. The survey reveals trends in economic sentiment, issues of greatest concern to small business owners, plans for future hiring and capital expenditures, and innovation. Now in its fifth year, the survey polled 3,173 small businesses during the first quarter of 2014, including 200 in Illinois, with $10 million or less in annual revenue across the 25 states where U.S. Bank provides small business banking services. A full breakdown of the survey is available online, as well as local highlights. “We’re seeing small business owners here move forward cautiously, waiting for sustained demand before making big investments in their business. But by adding an employee or embracing new business strategies, it’s clear they’re looking for a competitive edge to position their business for growth when the economy improves,” said Greg Fioresi, regional small business banking manager for U.S. Bank in Chicago. Economic Outlook Illinois small business owners’ views of the country’s economy are in line with their national counterparts, as approximately half (53 percent) said they believe it is in a recovery. However, more than two-thirds (69 percent) said they believe the state’s economy is weaker than the national economy. This is significantly higher than the nationwide average of less than one-third (30 percent) of small business owners saying their local economy was weaker than the national. Describe local economy as weaker than the national economy:
Illinois small business owners
National small business owners (average)
Although Illinois small business owners have had a more negative view of the local economy over the past four years than their national counterparts, sentiment has improved slightly. When asked to describe their local economy, three-quarters (77 percent) selected “fair” or “poor” (down from 87 percent in 2011) and one-quarter (23 percent) selected “good,” “very good” or “excellent” (up from 13 percent in 2011). This year they said that taxes and local government budgeting were reasons to feel worse about the state’s economy, and lower unemployment and higher wages were reasons to feel better.