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Mass Small Business Owners Plagued by High Costs

Saturday, September 01, 2012


U.S. small-business-owner satisfaction reached its highest level since 2008 when it climbed to 39 percent in the third quarter of this year, a new Wells Fargo-Gallup poll said.

The results showed a sharp increase from the 26 percent satisfaction rating recorded during the third quarter of 2010. Data was not collected for 2011.

While satisfaction may be up, overall optimism has been declining since April, according to Gallup.

Optimism Lagging in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, small business optimism has only taken a downward turn during the last two months, falling 0.2 points to 91.2 in July on the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) index.

According to NFIB, since the end of the recession, the optimism index bottomed out at 86.5 in July of 2009 before ultimately reaching a high of 94.5 in February of this year.

“Congress has recessed without a plan to resolve our calamitous debt/spending cycle or a lasting answer to our dangerous fiscal cliff,” said NFIB chief economist William Dunkelberg.

NFIB Massachusetts president Bill Vernon said the national numbers may be rosier than those for local businesses here in the Bay State.

"I think Massachusetts is different from a lot of the country," he said. "I also think Massachusetts may be bumping up against about as well as we can do.

"Certainly the better times are not shared equally among all small businesses," he added, noting that economic problems continue to plague the communities of Lawrence, Lowell, Fall River and New Bedford.

"I'm cautious about saying things are wonderful."

High Costs A Burden

The main cause of such tempered optimism is the high cost of doing business in the Commonwealth.

Higher incomes and higher salaries go hand in hand with higher payroll and property taxes.

"Our health insurance is probably about the highest in the world," said Vernon.

Dick Kennedy, president of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he's seen a general uneasiness about the future among business owners that stems from uncertainty about the tax code and healthcare costs.

"With the elections coming up, there's a wait and see attitude," he said. 


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