Vice President Kamala Harris, left to right, US President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, wear protective masks during a meeting with Democratic Senators in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, February 3. , 2021 to discuss relief from the Covid-19 stimulus.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images
American small business owners have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite two rounds of federal loan programs aimed at helping small employers, a majority of Main Street is still clamoring for more help.
According to the latest CNBC quarterly survey | SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, 63% of small business owners support the $ 1.9 trillion Covid relief program currently proposed by President Joe Biden’s administration and debated in Congress.
That includes 46% of Republican small business owners who are showing their support for the first major legislative proposal of the new Democratic administration. In fact, Biden’s relief package has a lot more Republicans support than Biden himself. Only 14% of Republican small business owners say they approve of Biden’s way of handling his job as president.
Support for greater relief comes as the confidence of small business owners fell to a new all-time low since the start of the Quarterly Tracking Survey in 2017. The Small Business Confidence Index fell from 48 out of 100 in the fourth quarter of last year to 43 this quarter. In addition, the number of small business owners who say they believe they can continue to operate for more than a year under current business conditions fell from 67% in the fourth quarter to 55%.
The CNBC survey | SurveyMonkey Small Business Q1 2021 was conducted from January 25 to January 31 using the SurveyMonkey Platform and included responses from 2,111 small business owners across the country.
The debate over increased federal relief has become more partisan among small business owners now that former President Donald Trump has stepped down. In the fourth quarter, 83% of small business owners expressed support for what has become a $ 900 billion package adopted by Congress and signed by Trump in late December.
“There are more Republicans than Democrats who own small businesses,” said Laura Wronski, head of scientific research at SurveyMonkey. “When we responded to the last poll, it was after the election, but it was still in that interim period where… there was maybe still a bit of doubt in people’s minds. [about the outcome]. I think people’s perceptions may have hardened, whereas in December they were a little more up for grabs. Because this is the opening speech of the Biden administration, it becomes easier to say yes or no. “
Support for the latest package may also have waned, Wronski says, due to the possibility that it will include an increase in the federal minimum wage, a move that is generally unpopular among business owners. The survey found that 54% of small business owners oppose increasing the federal minimum wage to $ 15 / hour, while 44% support the increase.
Overall, small business confidence has been affected by a sharp drop in the number of small business owners reporting general business conditions as ‘good’ (from 39% in Q4 2020 to 29% this quarter), as well as sharp increases in the number of small business owners who expect potential changes in tax, trade, regulatory and even immigration policy in the coming year to negatively impact their businesses. – all due in large part to a “collapse” in confidence among Republican small business owners.
Wronski noted that a year ago, only 17% of Republicans said they expected government regulations to negatively impact their business. This quarter that number is 82%, essentially more than quadrupling year over year. Meanwhile, in the first quarter of 2020, 40% of Democrats said they expected regulatory changes to negatively impact their businesses, and this quarter that figure fell to 12%. “This is a good example of how the increase in confidence of Democrats is unable to compensate for the decrease in confidence of Republicans. The magnitude is so different between the two groups in terms of how much their perceptions have changed from year to year, ”she said.
Confidence among Republican small business owners has completely collapsed since Trump lost the 2020 election to Biden. The Republicans’ small business confidence index is 32, 25 points lower than it was in the third quarter of 2020, the latest survey before the election. It’s also 9 points lower than the lowest trust value of Democratic small business owners under President Donald Trump.
Conversely, the confidence of small business owners who identify as Democrats rose to 63, up 17 points from the pre-election survey.