Atlanta, GA – August 18, 2014 – Three hot-button topics for this fall’s midterm election – immigration reform, health care and minimum wage – bring to light a variety of opinions, challenges and opportunities among America’s small and mid-sized business (SMB) leaders, according to the latest survey from Lucas Group, a national recruitment firm specializing in search and placement services for strategic business functions.
In addition to surveying business leaders about economic prospects and hiring plans, Lucas Group’s SMB Job Generation Outlook gathers opinions on the nation’s most hotly debated political issues. The latest quarterly report reveals that two-thirds of SMB leaders are pessimistic about hopes for bipartisanship in the nation’s capital; these sentiments align with Gallop’s June report that Congressional approval has dropped to 16 percent and national satisfaction to 23 percent. While support for easing immigration requirements for highly skilled workers continues to be strong among SMB executives, more than half of the business leaders surveyed are against easing requirements for the general immigrant population. One-third of SMBs expect the Affordable Care Act will have a “large impact” on their companies and more than half foresee negative consequences should the federal minimum wage be raised to $10.10 per hour.
Despite seemingly negative perceptions of Washington politics, SMB executives across the country and from a variety of industries are moving forward with plans to expand and hire. A majority of respondents (69 percent) say they are optimistic about their economic prospects and nearly half report plans to hire new employees in the coming months.
“Small and mid-sized businesses often are a bellwether for what is happening economically and politically,” said Scott Smith, Chief Marketing Officer at Lucas Group. “Our goal with the SMB quarterly report is to illustrate how major policy issues are playing out in the business world and how they shape the growth and hiring plans of SMBs. Even if ongoing debates in Washington weigh down the overall engine of the economy, SMB leaders remain optimistic about the health of their companies and are bullish on their plans for growth.”
The Q2 survey, which gathered insights of 400 SMB top executives from across the country, comes as political rhetoric around immigration remains heated. Recently, President Obama said he plans to act administratively – with or without Congressional approval – on immigration before the midterm election, and with Congress out of session for August recess, several legislative proposals to address reform and assist in managing the border crisis sit idle.
This quarter, the survey registered its highest levels of anti-immigration reform sentiment among business leaders. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed said they either disagree or disagree strongly that the United States should ease requirements for all immigrants. In the previous quarterly survey, 48 percent held a disagreeing view on overall immigration reform.
Business leaders were only slightly more amenable to easing requirements for immigrants already in the United States, with 48 percent saying they disagreed or disagreed strongly with that policy. However, when it comes to easing requirements for immigrants in IT, science and other high-demand fields, SMB leaders are more agreeable. Nearly half (46 percent) said they either agree or agree strongly that the U.S. should ease requirements for skilled workers.
As for the President’s signature health care reform, business leaders consistently list health care costs as their company’s top challenge and many are concerned about the level of impact the law will have on their businesses. One-third of those surveyed said the Affordable Care Act will have a “large impact” on their companies, up from 25 percent in Q1. Another 58 percent report the ACA will have a lesser impact, while only nine percent of SMBs expect no business impact related to the health care law.
An increasing number of businesses also appear to be actively preparing for the law’s full implementation, with 41 percent of respondents stating their companies are ready, versus just 18 percent one year ago. A shrinking percentage of businesses are still waiting to act. Six percent of those surveyed said they have not done anything to prepare but plan to, while 10 percent say they won’t do anything at all.
Approximately half of the SMB leaders surveyed revealed that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour may create a variety of negative consequences for their businesses. One-quarter said they would raise prices to end consumers, while 44 percent suggested either workforce reductions and/or hiring freezes would result. Similar to last quarter, three percent report that a $10.10 federal minimum wage would drive them to close their doors.
Business concerns about the $10.10 rate, however, do not translate to an all-out rejection of a theoretical wage increase. When asked to share their ideal minimum wage (based on a sliding scale) two-thirds of SMBs revealed support for a wage higher than $8.20. While 31 percent wished to keep the rate between its current $7.25 per hour and $8.20 per hour, 46 percent of respondents felt that the $8.21–$10.10 range was most ideal. Interestingly, 23 percent of SMB leaders chose answers in the rate range of $10.11–12.00 as most ideal – going beyond the proposed $10.10 increase.
The SMB Job Generation Outlook is conducted by Lucas Group in coordination with Polaris Marketing Research and Dr. Goutam Challagalla, Associate Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Business. For the full Q2 SMB Job Generation Outlook, click here.
About the Survey
Conducted quarterly, the SMB Job Generation Outlook is a national survey of SMB top business leaders. The Q2 survey was conducted by Polaris Market Research on behalf of Lucas Group from June 10 – June 27, 2014. Each of the 400 respondents was a CEO, CFO, COO, chairman, president, executive vice president and/or owner of their company. The survey covered a wide variety of industries with manufacturing, finance/insurance/real estate and business services having the strongest presence. Forty-three percent of the respondents reported annual revenue in the $50 to $150 million range.
About Lucas Group
Lucas Group is North America’s premier executive search firm. Since 1970, our culture and methodologies have driven superior results. We assist clients ranging in size from small to medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 companies find transcendent, executive talent; candidates fully realize their ambitions; and associates find professional success. To learn more, please visit Lucas Group at www.lucasgroup.com and connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
For additional information, please contact:
Alicia Deedy, Marketing Project Lead