Small business surveys from Capital One and NFIB reveal guarded optimism

By , CardRatings contributor
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Capital One's latest survey of small business owners has revealed that most entrepreneurs feel optimistic about the future of their local communities, even if they believe the nation's economy hasn't yet fully rebounded. According to Capital One's second quarter 2013 Spark Small Business Barometer, 45 percent of respondents told researchers that they felt optimistic about their financial positions, a seven-point boost from the same period in 2012.

The survey group of 1,906 small business owners split almost evenly over how they characterize current business conditions. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they felt business was "fair" or "poor," while 46 percent classified business as "excellent" or "good." However, only 18 percent of respondents said that their company's actual financial position had worsened over the past 12 months. In a statement to reporters, Capital One representatives characterized the drop in that statistic as "significant."

Small businesses show focus on growth, but few new jobs

The small business credit card issuer's findings mirror those from a similar survey released by the National Federation of Independent Business. The NFIB's Index of Small Business Optimism increased to the second highest level since the start of the recession in December 2007.

Both surveys underscored the fact that heightened optimism hasn't translated into new jobs. The NFIB's survey reported "essentially zero" new jobs created during May, while more than two-thirds of the businesses included in Capital One's survey don't expect to hire again within the next six months. Business owners with positions to fill suggested they would prioritize jobs for military veterans over hiring recent college graduates. In a statement to reporters, NFIB officials characterized a drop in unemployment statistics as the effect of workers leaving the job market instead of filling new positions.

Despite the increased availability of small business credit cards and development loans, only a third of the respondents to the NFIB's survey expressed any desire to borrow additional funds. Only 5 percent of business owners in NFIB's sample told researchers their credit needs weren't being met.

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