Small Business Confidence returns to last year’s all-time low as confidence in President Biden and the U.S. banking system declines: CNBC|SurveyMonkey

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Q3 2023 Small Business Confidence Index decreases to a score of 42 out of 100, matching the all-time low score in Q3 2022

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. and SAN MATEO, CA, August 22, 2023 — CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, and SurveyMonkey today announced the results of their quarterly CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey.

The third quarter survey, conducted August 7-14, 2023, finds that Small Business Confidence has returned to its lowest level since CNBC and SurveyMonkey began surveying small business owners in 2017. The Small Business Confidence Index, a number based on responses to eight questions in the survey, dropped to a score of 42 in Q3 2023, matching the all-time low of 42 in the third quarter of 2022.

Overall confidence in President Joe Biden also declined to match the same level seen in Q3 2022, with more than two-thirds (68%) disapproving of the way Biden is handling his job as president. But Small Business Confidence even declined among those who support the President, reaching a new low of 55, down from 60 in the second quarter of 2023.

Given recent news on potential enforcement actions in the banking industry, the third quarter survey also finds that the U.S. banking system remains top of mind among small business owners. As their confidence in the banking system has weakened over the last quarter, the gap between those who express confidence and a lack of confidence widened from just one percentage point in Q2 to nine percentage points in Q3. Fewer small business owners now than in Q2 (48% vs. 53%) say it is easy for them to access the capital needed for their business to operate.

The survey also highlights small business owners’ views on organized labor unions, with few supporting growth in organized labor, especially at their own companies. Almost half of small business owners (47%) say labor unions today have “too much power and influence” and most small business owners (59%) would oppose an increase in unionization at their company, including forty-two percent who say they would strongly oppose such a change. The results were strongly divided along political party lines, with 68% of small business owners who are Democrats, and just 20% who are Republicans, saying they support an increase in unionization at their company.

“From Starbucks to UPS to Hollywood, the revived labor movement has been the story of summer 2023–and yet small business is fiercely opposed to an increase in unionization,” says Laura Wronski, Director of Research at SurveyMonkey. “Despite positive data across the US economy, small business sentiment took another dip this quarter, which reflects more of the political environment than the economic one.”

Each quarter, CNBC and SurveyMonkey poll over 2,000 small business owners aiming to measure the vitality of the American economy as well as the view from Main Street on jobs, taxes, and other hot topics. In addition to measuring small business confidence nationwide, the large sample size gives CNBC and SurveyMonkey the power to uncover trends by geographic region and among specific small business cohorts.    

Additional findings from the Q3 2023 CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey include:    

Biggest drivers of the decrease in small business owners’ confidence:

  • An increasing share of small business owners who expect a negative effect on their business due to immigration policy (up from 31% in Q2 to 36% now).
  • An increasing share of small business owners who expect a negative effect on their business due to tax policy (up from 57% in Q2 to 60% now).
  • A slight decrease in the share of small business owners who expect their headcount to increase in the next year (down from 28% in Q2 to 25% now).
  • A dip in the share of small business owners who say current business conditions are good (down from 40% in Q2 to 38% now).

Key takeaways on labor union sentiment:

  • Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation is the only industry whose small business owners support an increase in unionization.
  • Responses among the general population are much more favorable toward labor union support with 48% saying unions are mostly good for working people, 15% saying they are mostly bad, and 33% are undecided.
  • Some 11% of small business owners are members of labor unions themselves, exactly matching the rate among the general population.

CNBC Restaurant & Small Business Correspondent Kate Rogers will reveal the results of the CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey today, Tuesday, August 22 throughout the network’s Business Day programming. For more information on the survey including the full results and methodology and in-depth articles, go to:


SurveyMonkey created a unique Small Business Confidence Index (SBCI), which is a 100-point score based on responses to eight key questions. The index is calculated on a scale from 0–100 and is based on the responses to eight key questions. A zero indicates no confidence, and a score of 100 indicates perfect confidence. The third quarter of 2023′s SBCI has decreased to an overall value of 42 from 46 in the second quarter. 

This CNBC/SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted August 7-14, 2023 among a national sample of 2,087 self-identified small business owners ages 18 and up. This quarter, we also reached 9,776 individuals who do not own small businesses. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for the results among small business owners and 1.5 percentage points for results among those who do not own small businesses.  

Data for small business statistics have been weighted according to business characteristics (industry and number of employees) according to the Small Business Administration’s 2013 Statistics of U.S. Businesses. Additionally, person-level data (age, gender, level of education, race, geography) for business owners have been weighted to the Census Bureau’s 2012 Survey of Business Owners.   

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