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Freedom Economy Index: September Survey Shows Small Business Optimism Takes Sharp Down Turn

RedBalloon and PublicSq. released their September edition of the Freedom Economy Index this morning at 11:30 AM EST and the findings shows that the host of over 65,000 businesses are extremely unhappy with both the White House and the GOP Congress on the issues of spending, debt, and inflation.

Here are the latest FEI key findings:

September’s survey found a startling 34% drop in economic optimism among these small business owners, with just 27.6% now saying they are highly or cautiously optimistic about the future of their business. Business owners who are “pessimistic” or “worried” about their businesses rose to 54.3%, a significant jump of 23.9% from August.

Similarly, there was a 35% jump in business owners who predict the US is heading into a “Major recession,” with 85.3% of all respondents now anticipating a difficult economic road.

Additionally, business owners are putting hiring into a holding pattern, with the number of businesses neither hiring nor reducing staff climbing to 65.6%, up from 53.6 in August.

As for inflation, 75.3% of respondents said that the current Fed policy of interest rates being “higher for longer” will “hurt my business.” 84% disagree that “Inflation has calmed and is no longer an issue for me or my business,” and 93.9 say “families and consumers are still hurting from inflation.”

Additionally, 53% said the number-one act they would take “right now” to improve the US economy is to “stop runaway spending in Washington DC.” And a plurality, 40%, said if they could “go back in time” the one thing they would change is “government spending and the resulting inflation.”

The small business community doesn’t trust either the Biden Administration or congressional leadership to take necessary fiscal action. 91.3% of respondents said they do not believe congress nor the President “will ever act to reduce the national debt.” And 85.2% of respondents said they believe “the size of the national debt hurts their business directly.”

“There’s been a startling shift among small business owners,” said Michael Seifert, CEO of PublicSq. “These are the businesses that feel the most impact from federal government actions, and they’re being suffocated by the continued spending and resulting inflation.”

“This should be a wake-up call to policy makers and members of congress,” said RedBalloon CEO Andrew Crapuchettes. “The small business community has lost trust in our leaders’ ability to make good fiscal and economic decisions, and that may lead to a tremendous shakeup in the polls next year.”

The Freedom Economy is calling for fiscal responsibility and government accountability. They want to see the same responsibility and initiative they display every day at work, displayed by those they elect and pay to lead the nation.

These findings should serve as a compelling wake-up call for policymakers, urging them to reassess their strategies and regain the trust of the small business community, which holds a pivotal position in the nation's economic landscape.

Download the full September report here.


The September 2023 Freedom Economy Index, a joint project of PublicSq. and RedBalloon, sampled a universe of over 60,000 small businesses from September 25-29, with 1,126 respondents and a 3% margin of error at the 95% confidence level.

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