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Small-business optimism drops, healthcare reform brings uncertainty

October 04 2013

As healthcare reform begins and a government shutdown continues, optimism tumbled among U.S. small businesses, according to the SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard for September. Optimism fell to 59 percent from as high as 72 percent last month.

Nationwide hiring was flat month over month in September and down 1.7 percent compared to September 2012. The average September paycheck slipped 0.4 percent from August and 0.1 percent year over year, according to the report.

Forty-three percent of small business owners surveyed said they need more clarity on the impact of healthcare reform to feel confident hiring again.

“The uncertainty caused by the government shutdown serves to further force small business owners to reconsider any long-term investments or hiring. On top of that, the only thing that’s certain about healthcare reform right now is that it’s causing more uncertainty,” said SurePayroll CEO and President Michael Alter. “In the meantime, small business owners are not likely to add more employees or pay their current employees more until they know exactly how the new health law will affect them.”

Although optimism dropped and hiring was flat, 46 percent of small business owners said they did better in the third quarter of 2013 than the third quarter of 2012, and 30 percent said results were the same. Fifty-eight percent said they matched expectations for the quarter; 13 percent said the quarter exceeded expectations; and 29 percent said results were below expectations.

SurePayroll’s Scorecard compiles data from more than 40,000 small businesses and exclusively reflects the trends affecting businesses with an average of eight employees.

SurePayroll Inc. provides online payroll services to small businesses. It is a subsidiary of Paychex Inc. (NASD: PAYX).

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