Nearly one out of two small business owners, 48%, say they are worse off now than they were in 2007, the official start of the recession, according to a new nationwide poll.
The survey, from PNC Bank, further found that less than half, 46%, of the respondents expect a sales increase in the next six months — down from 58% last spring. Projected profits are on a downswing, too: Less than four out of 10, 38%, expect an increase, compared with 43% in the spring.
Expected hiring, no surprise, is also not a bundle of optimism, according to the survey. Less than one-fourth of the respondents, 23%, expected to add new employees by the end of the year. At least that's up from last year, when only 20% of the respondents expected to increase the payroll.
PNC conducted the survey, a biannual economic outlook, between July 23 and Sept. 10 through phone calls with more than 1,600 small business owners or top decision makers. The size of the companies surveyed ranged from $100,000 in annual revenues to $250 million.
“The pace of the U.S. economic and jobs recovery remains disappointing,” PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman says in a release. “Despite significant headwinds like the deepening recession in Europe and impending 'fiscal cliff,' the hiring plans and business outlook reflected in this survey are just enough to keep the modest recovery persistent into 2013.”
Some other survey highlights:
• More than half of the respondents, 55%, are pessimistic about the U.S. economy over the next six months, while 48% are pessimistic about their local economy;
• Less than half, 43%, plan to spend on capital investments in the next six months, down from 59% last spring;
• Less than two out of 10, 16%, probably or definitely will take out a new loan or line of credit in the next six months, down slightly from 20% last spring.