A survey of Pennsylvania small business owners indicates they are cautiously optimistic about the future.
According to the poll by the trade association, SMC Business Councils, 28% of respondents expect to increase employment while 65% anticipate no change in their workforce levels, and 6% will lay off employees. Tom Henschke, president of the organization, says 56% expect revenues to grow; 30% see revenues remaining the same, and 14% think their revenues will drop.
"This survey shows some increased optimism from small business in the form of same or slightly increasing sales, same or slightly better profit margin. However, it's not necessarily leading to new hiring, capital investments, expansion. It's still a sign to us that there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty."
The small business owners indicated the cost of the Affordable Health Care Act as far and away the top business challenge. 88% of SMC members listed it as one of their top business challenges, including the cost of complying with the taxes, new benefits and mandates that go along with it. Nearly six in 10 -- 58% -- consider the health laws to be a severe challenge to their businesses.
However, a report issued last week by Families USA, a national organization for health care consumers, indicates 161,000 small businesses in Pennsylvania, 4 million nationwide, with fewer than 25 employees are eligible for a tax credit to help cover the cost of health insurance premiums for their workers.
Business owners also listed the economy (34%), the cost of doing business (27%), taxes (38%), regulations (34%), and the cost of energy (23%) as other challenges to their success and ability to add workers.