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Survey: Middle market US business owners plan more hiring and raises for employees

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Optimistic Outlook, Profitable Year
Nearly nine out of 10 owners are optimistic about their company's overall prospects – an increase from the spring. At the same time, 76% are optimistic about their local economy, the highest number since 2007, but 67% are optimistic about the U.S. economy.

Ninety percent of business owners say they will at least break even this year, including 70% who believe they will make a profit. The average profit is about seven percent of sales. Only six percent expect a loss.

Financing Needs Remain Limited
Although expectations for business prospects are promising, loan and credit demand continue on a slow path upward. Eight out of 10 owners say they will not pursue new loans or lines of credit in the next six months while 18% will. When asked about access to credit, 23% say it is easier and only 12% say it is harder now compared to three months ago.

Other key findings include:

  • Reinvesting in the Business: Of those expecting to make a profit this year, 36% say they intend to invest in business operations followed by: add to cash reserves (29%); distribute money to owners (27%); and pay off debts and liabilities (25%).
  • Healthcare Cost Impact: Almost half (49%) believe their company's cost for employee health care will rise in the next six months, up from 44% in the spring. More than half (53%) said they believe the Affordable Care Act will have a negative impact on business costs in 2015, up from 49% in the spring.
  • Housing Prices Continue to Rise: 58% expect housing prices to rise in their local market in the next 6-12 months, on a par with 59% six months ago and 52% one year ago.


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