With a full year of data from the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey now in, it's become clear that on Main Street business owners are increasingly positive in the Trump era. In the second quarter, the broad CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Confidence Index remains near a record-high, and the details show small business owners to be increasing their expectations in two critical areas: revenue and hiring.
Small-business owners are now more apt than they were a year ago to anticipate higher revenue over the next 12 months (60 percent vs. 55 percent a year ago) and to increase their staff (31 percent vs. 27 percent a year ago).
The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, an online poll with responses from more than 2,000 small-business owners each quarter, now finds that more than half (53 percent) of small-business owners rate their current business conditions positively, the first time a majority has voiced that view. The percentage seeing things as good has been steadily climbing each quarter; the second-quarter 2018 reading is 15 percentage points higher than it was in the second quarter of 2017, when the survey started (38 percent).
While the increases in sentiment on business conditions were gradual and consistent, other components had wilder swings. Revenue expectations saw their largest quarter-to-quarter change from the last quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, when the proportion of small- business owners expecting an increase in revenue jumped from 53 percent to 60 percent. This change coincided with a significant shift in small-business owners' expectations regarding tax policy — and with the debate and passage of major tax-reform legislation.