National Federation of Independent Business: Health insurance, regulations, and federal taxes listed as top three concerns for small business owners

NFIB Survey: Health Insurance, Regulations, and Federal Taxes Listed as Top Three Concerns for Small Business Owners

“Finding qualified workers” jumps 22 spots to make the top ten problems list

MADISON, WI (September 16, 2016) – The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) today 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.

“Many Americans are frustrated by the federal government’s failure to solve problems. Small business owners are frustrated by the problems that the federal government creates,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “All of the top problems for small businesses relate directly to excessive federal regulation and taxation.”

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. According to the data, 52 percent of small business owners rank the “cost of health insurance” as a critical problem. That figure is virtually unchanged from four years ago.

“Congress failed to heed the warnings by Senator Johnson more than six years ago and instead implemented the Affordable Care Act. Many supporters at the time claimed that it would provide a solution to the healthcare cost problem, but our Senator knew better. Our latest survey certainly vindicates Senator Johnson’s positions and shows, yet again, his foresight and understanding of complex federal policies and their implications for the small business community,” according to NFIB Wisconsin state director, Bill G. Smith. “In addition to Obamacare, several other federal regulations have been introduced over the years. If only we had more members of the Senate like Mr. Johnson, a former small business owner himself.”

Smith noted that 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 the outcome of the November election.

“More than ever, it’s vital to have lawmakers in Washington, D.C. who are capable of advocating for our community. 33% of small business owners identified “unreasonable government regulations” as a critical problem, placing it second in the rankings, up from the fifth position in 2012,” continued Smith.

Tax-related issues represent 5 of top 10 most serious problems for small business owners. Nearly a third (29 percent) 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.

“Between federal taxes, state/local taxes, and their complexity, government is consuming the resources that small business needs to survive,” said Duggan.

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 percent 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. Businesses that can’t find good workers are at a disadvantage. Small firms can’t raise prices or increase sales to support higher labor costs.

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.

Some serious problems in 2012 moved down in the rankings this year. In the last survey, for example, the “cost of natural gas” was the third worst problem. It tumbled this year to 34th place. “Electricity costs,” which ranked 12 in the last survey, dropped 7 places this year to 19.

“Lower energy prices are a boon to small business in Wisconsin. It reduces direct operating expenses and frees up capital, and it increases discretionary income for small business customers,” said Smith.

To view the full NFIB Problems and Priorities Survey, please visit .