The Presidential Election’s Negative Impact on Small Business

Author: Caron Beesley | November 2, 2016

The seemingly never-ending presidential election season is nearly over. Come November 8th, we’ll head to the polls and put one of history’s most hotly contested and controversial elections to bed.

Small businesses have been following the election very closely, much more so than the general public, and the outcome is trepidation and concern all round.

Just look at the statistics:

  • According to a June 2016 survey by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), roughly one-third of small business owners said that uncertainty relating to the presidential election had impacted them negatively. A Bank of America report put the number at over two-thirds.
  • The same WSJ survey found that in June, small business confidence fell to its lowest level since November 2012 (our last election season).
  • Only 33% of small business owners feel that the candidates are discussing the issues that matter to them (Source: Wells Fargo).

Doom and Gloom is a Big Problem This Election Season

Hiring delays, putting off investments, or reducing capital expenditures are common knock-on impacts of election cycles. But this year, concerns over the election are much more profoundly felt than usual.

The Bank of America report suggests that the typical doom and gloom felt during election years is more pervasive this year, with only 29% of those surveyed believing that the national economy will improve in the coming year.

The Knock-On Effect of the Presidential Election

Among the biggest concerns for small business owners are taxes, the broader economy, healthcare costs, and job growth. Pessimism is not good for business. It’s poor for expansion and hiring plans, and, of course, job growth.

An August poll by the National Association for Business Economics found that 11% of its members had delayed hiring until after the election, and more than half rated the election as bad for the economy.

Can We Expect a Bounce Back in November?

Will these concerns be alleviated once we have a decision on who will take up residency in the Oval Office come January 2017? Perhaps not.

Both candidates have very different positions when it comes to the policies that directly impact small business (tax, labor laws and regulation, healthcare, access to capital), which has only exasperated the uncertainty about direction of the economy that is common at this time.

Time will only tell whether rhetoric turns into policy plans, and plans turn into legislation. Whichever way it goes, November 8th will be a day of reckoning. Small businesses make up 99.9% of all firms in the U.S., account for 41.2% of private-sector payroll and 63.3% of all net new jobs created since 1992 (Source: SBA). And just as small businesses have paid significant attention to the election, the outcome will be closely followed too.

Read more about what the 2016 presidential election could mean for your small business.

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