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Small Business Owners Mixed on State of the Economy in 2013, Growth Outlook for 2014 Tempered, Citing Federal Budget and Jobs as Top Concerns

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apr. 22, 2013-- Small business owners are divided about whether the national economy is in recession or recovery in 2013, according to results of the 2013 U.S. Bank Small Business Annual Survey. The survey also revealed trends in economic sentiment, business conditions, issues of greatest concern to small business owners and their plans for future hiring and capital expenditures.

Now in its fourth year, the survey polled 3,210 small businesses with $10 million or less in annual revenue during the first quarter of 2013 across the 25 states where U.S. Bank provides small business banking services.

Those who believed the economy is in recovery (45 percent) held a slight edge on the number of small business owners who said they believe the economy is in recession (43 percent). The federal budget deficit/debt is the top national issue for small business owners in 2013, followed by unemployment, healthcare and taxes. In 2012, small business owners said healthcare was their biggest concern, followed by unemployment, taxes and the federal budget.


Do you believe the U.S. economy is in a ...

Recovery     Recession     Expansion     Unsure
45%     43%     1%     10%

“These results are very consistent with what we’re hearing in the field,” said John Elmore, vice chairman of community banking and branch delivery at U.S. Bank. “Last year, 70 percent of our respondents said they believed the economy was in recession, so even though we asked the question a little differently this year, it’s clear that small business owners feel a little better about current economic conditions than they did in 2012. However, uncertainty about the federal budget, unemployment and taxes are clearly a concern. If those variables improve, I believe we have a small business sector that is ready to soar.”

Business conditions

Two-thirds of the survey respondents describe their business as at least “good,” but many have tempered expectations for 2014, with lower revenue expectations, and plans for hiring and capital expenditures mostly on par with what owners reported in 2012.

How would you describe the financial health of your business?
      2010     2011     2012     2013
Good, Very Good or Excellent     64%     64%     69%     67%
Fair to poor     36%     36%     31%     33%
How has revenue for your business changed compared to this time last year?
      2010     2011     2012     2013
Higher     25%     26%     29%     29%
About the same     31%     38%     40%     43%
Lower     45%     36%     31%     29%

At this same time next year, do you expect your revenues to be...

      2010     2011     2012     2013
Higher     46%     49%     46%     41%
About the same     43%     41%     44%     47%
Lower     11%     10%     10%     12%
Over the next 12 months, do you expect to increase or decrease the total number of people working for you?
      2010     2011     2012     2013
Increase     17%     22%     20%     16%
Decrease     9%     7%     5%     5%
Remain the same     74%     70%     75%     79%
How likely are you to make capital expenditures to expand your business in the next year?
      2010     2011     2012     2013
Likely     28%     30%     32%     28%
Unlikely     68%     65%     63%     67%
Unsure     4%     5%     5%     5%

Small business owner sentiment about the impact of the new health care law was largely consistent from 2012 to 2013, however concern has increased since 2010.

In the long run, do you believe the national health care reform law will be:
      2010     2011     2012     2013
Positive     24%     23%     21%     20%
Negative     55%     57%     60%     60%
Unsure     10%     10%     7%     8%

The uncertainty of the fiscal cliff had some impact on business owners’ plans for 2013, but the majority (59 percent) said they did not implement a contingency plan. Of the 14 percent who did have a contingency plan, most (74 percent) said the plan included postponing planned investments in their business. Additionally, 82 percent of those with a contingency plan said they implemented their plan despite developments to resolve the issue in Washington D.C. Twenty-eight percent of business owners did not have a business plan for 2013.


Small business owners are more likely than the general population to be innovators and early adopters of new technology. The majority of owners are currently using mobile technology for business purposes, whether it’s checking online banking statements, paying credit card bills, maintaining their calendar, social networking or sending and receiving email.

When it comes to adopting new technology, how would you classify yourself?
      Innovator     Early Adopter     Early Majority     Late Majority     Laggard
Small Business     6%     24%     33%     31%     6%
General Population     3%     14%     34%     34%     16%
Source for general population: Rogers, E.M., Diffusion of Innovators, 4th Edition (New York Free Press, 1995).

U.S. Bank is one of the top small business banks in the nation. U.S. Bank ranks third in the nation in Small Business Administration (SBA) lending based on data for the first six months of the SBA’s 2012-2013 fiscal year. Last year, the company launched Connect (www.usbankconnect.com) a website just for small business owners that provides helpful tips and resources for starting, growing and managing a business. Survey results, as well as info graphics highlighting differences in opinions based on age, gender, business size, location and ethnicity are available on Connect at http://www.usbankconnect.com/tool/2013-us-bank-small-business-annual-survey-complete-results.

U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), with $355 billion in assets as of March 31, 2013, is the parent company of U.S. Bank, the 5th largest commercial bank in the United States. Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, the company operates 3,080 banking offices in 25 states and 5,056 ATMs. The bank provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at www.usbank.com.

Source: U.S. Bancorp

Teri Charest, U.S. Bank Public Relations
(612) 303-0732, teri.charest@usbank.com

"Safe Harbor" Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Statements in this press release regarding U.S. Bancorp's business which are not historical facts are "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of such risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see "Risk Factors" in the Company's Annual Report or Form 10-K for the most recently ended fiscal year.

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