According to new research, 52% of small business owners rank the “cost of health insurance” as a critical problem. That figure is virtually unchanged from four years ago. Furthermore, all of the top problems for small businesses relate directly to excessive federal regulation and taxation.”
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) released its quadrennial Problems and Priorities Survey, according to which small business owners list the cost of health insurance, government regulations, and high federal taxes their top three concerns.
The NFIB survey asks small business owners to weigh 75 issues on a scale of 1 (a critical problem) to 7 (not a problem). Then it ranks the issues from top to bottom by their average score.
With big insurance companies pulling out of many of the health care exchanges, and with double-digit premium hikes likely next year, Congress will have to revisit the issue regardless of what happens in November.
More than a third of small business owners (33%) identified “unreasonable government regulations” as a critical problem, placing it second in the rankings, up from the fifth position in 2012.
Tax-related issues represent 5 of top 10 most serious problems for small business owners. Nearly a third (29%) say “federal taxes on business income” is their biggest headache. Many others identify: “tax complexity; frequent changes in the tax code; property taxes; and state taxes on business income” as their top concerns.
The biggest change in the survey from previous years is “locating qualified employees.” In 2012, finding good workers ranked 32nd in the survey. This year it’s a serious problem for 12% of small business owners, placing it in the top 10. That could indicate a tight labor market, which is good news for workers who can command higher pay and better benefits.
Another fast climber in the survey this year is “minimum wage/living wage.” In the 2012 survey the issue placed near the bottom of concerns for small business owners. With a number of states and cities raising the mandatory minimum wage, in some cases to as much as $15 per hour, more small business owners now say it’s a big problem. The issue moved up 16 places, from 52 to 36, between 2012 and 2016.
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