OREANDA-NEWS. According to the spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, metro New York small business owners expressed greater caution on hiring and business growth this year, citing the upcoming U.S. presidential election as the top factor impacting their business outlook.

The report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners in metro New York and around the country, found that local entrepreneurs’ expectations to grow their business over the next five years declined from 64 percent in the spring of 2015 to just 52 percent this year, while plans to hire have fallen from 44 percent to 22 percent. Both figures are among the lowest when compared to counterparts nationwide.  

When asked what is affecting their business outlook for the year, the upcoming U.S. presidential election ranked the highest among various factors at 54 percent, followed by rising interest rates (35 percent) and social crises and violence in the U.S. and abroad (31 percent). Two-thirds of metro New York small business owners expect the election to have “a lot” or “some” impact on their business, with 55 percent expressing uncertainty over what that impact might be.

“It’s not uncommon for small business owners to take a more cautious, wait-and-see approach to their business strategies during election years,” said Michael Angelone, New York small business banker manager at Bank of America. “The good news is that most New York City entrepreneurs still expect continued revenue growth and remain enthusiastic about their opportunities.” 

Economic optimism declines; top concerns are government effectiveness, health care and the stock markets

The report found just 40 percent of New York City small business owners believe the national economy will improve in the next year, down 11 percentage points from spring 2015. They are slightly more optimistic about the local economy, with 46 percent expecting it to improve.

The top economic concern for metro New York small business owners is the “effectiveness of U.S. government leaders” (74 percent), which follows a similar trend to past election years (68 percent in spring 2012). Among other economic factors, New York small business owners worry most about health care costs (72 percent) and the U.S. and/or global stock market (61 percent).

New Yorkers optimistic about impact of minimum wage increase

With the minimum wage in New York City due to rise from $9 an hour to $15 at the end of 2019, 65 percent of New York small business owners believe the increase will have a positive impact on the economy, 18 percentage points above the national average. Fifty-nine percent report they will take financial measures to compensate for higher earnings for workers, with the most commonly cited measures including increasing the price of products or services (26 percent), reducing operational spending (21 percent) and cutting technology investments (13 percent).

Skill and work experience top hiring factors; education less so

Nearly half (49 percent) of New York City entrepreneurs say skill level is the single most important factor when hiring, followed by previous work experience (28 percent) and fit with company culture (17 percent). Only 6 percent say education level is the most important factor when considering a job candidate.

When metro New York entrepreneurs ranked qualities they find most important for their employees to exhibit, they most value candidates who are trustworthy (66 percent) and hardworking (62 percent). Additional top characteristics include experience (58 percent), strong communication skills (42 percent) and problem solving (42 percent). Sales ability (20 percent) and knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) (14 percent) were valued less.

For a complete, in-depth look at the insights of the nation’s small business owners, read the entire spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, and for additional insights, download the Small Business Owner Report national infographic.

About the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report
GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications conducted the spring 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report survey online between March 17 and April 19, 2016 using a pre-recruited online sample of small business owners. GfK contacted a national sample of 1,000 small business owners in the United States with annual revenue between $100,000 and $4,999,999 and employing between 2 and 99 employees. In addition, a total of 300 small business owners were also surveyed in nine target markets: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The final results were weighted to national benchmark standards for size, revenue, and region. Previous waves of the Small Business Owner Report survey were conducted by telephone. Best efforts were made to replicate processes in sample, weighting, and method.

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world's leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 47 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 4,700 retail financial centers, approximately 16,000 ATMs, and award-winning online banking with approximately 33 million active users and approximately 20 million mobile users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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