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Polling

CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Index Q1 2020

CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Index Q1 2020

Nearly two-thirds of small business owners in the U.S. (64%)—the highest percentage for any quarter since the start of his time in office—approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president. These findings come from the latest CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Index, and they coincide with increased optimism among small business owners about the current state of their business, along with decreased pessimism about the effect that policy changes may bring in the next 12 months.

This quarter’s survey was conducted during a pivotal period for President Trump, with fielding taking place same week as his third State of the Union address and his impeachment acquittal. Quarter-over-quarter, President Trump’s job approval increased the most (from 37% to 43%) among small business owners who identify politically as independents. Small business owners are more likely to identify as Republicans than Democrats by a substantial margin, propping up his approval among this group to a higher level than national public opinion polls show.

Small business owners report signs of a strong economy, with 56% describing current business conditions as "good," a three percentage point increase from last quarter. This quarter, as last quarter, 32% of small business owners expect to increase their headcount in the next 12 months, and 60% expect their revenue to grow in the same time period, as well. 

Expectations around trade and government regulations, which have jumped around over the past few years, are settling down. Just 20% of small business owners now expect trade policy to have a negative effect on their business in the next 12 months, down from 26% last quarter, and the lowest level it has reached since the first quarter of 2018. On this question, 26% of small business owners now expect positive implications for their business as a result of trade policy in the next 12 months, the highest percentage since the survey began in the second quarter of 2017.

Other key findings in this quarter's survey include:

  • Small business owners point to the twin problems of acquiring new customers (23%) and finding qualified employees (19%) as the biggest challenges they face at the start of 2020
  • As international trade concerns recede, 70% of small business owner say they don't expect to be affected by the Phase 1 trade deal with China, and 69% say they don't expect to be affected by the USMCA deal with Canada and Mexico
  • Despite more than 20 states raising their minimum wage at the start of the year, a majority (57%) of small business owners say they don't expect their business to be affected

Read more about our polling methodology here
Click through all the results in the interactive toplines below:

Question text:
Which one of the following issues matters MOST to you right now?
Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?In addition to yourself, how many employees work at your small business?Is your business a:Overall, would you describe current conditions for your business as good, middling or bad? In the next 12 months, do you expect your business’s revenue to increase, stay the same, or decrease? 
In the next 12 months, do you expect your business’s staff of full-time employees to increase, stay the same, or decrease?In the next 12 months, do you expect changes in government regulations to have a negative effect, no effect, or a positive effect on your business? 
In the next 12 months, do you expect changes in trade policy to have a negative effect, no effect, or a positive effect on your business? In the next 12 months, do you expect changes in technological innovation to have a negative effect, no effect, or a positive effect on your business? In the next 12 months, do you expect changes in immigration policy to have a negative effect, no effect, or a positive effect on your business?
In the next 12 months, do you expect your business’s staff of full-time employees to increase, stay the same, or decrease? 
As you may know, periods of economic growth are followed by periods of recession. Do you think a recession over the next year is…
What is currently the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
If one of your employees were to quit today, would you expect to pay their replacement more, less, or the same salary to do the same job?
Do you have any positions that have been open for at least 3 months that you have been unable to fill?
As you may know, more than 20 U.S states raised their minimum wage at the start of this year. What impact, if any, do you expect higher minimum wages to have on your business in 2020? (Select all that apply, or choose “No impact”)
Will you be investing new resources into any of the following for your business in 2020? (Select all that apply)
As you may know, the United States and China entered into a “Phase 1” Trade Agreement earlier this year. Based on what you know about the agreement, do you expect your business to be directly impacted by the deal?
As you may know, last week President Trump signed into law a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, the USMCA. Based on what you know about the USMCA, do you expect your business to be directly impacted by the deal?
*businesses