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Small Business Outlook Survey is solid data

July 26, 2011

Well, well Political Bitch. The Bastard is honored you took time to bite…   er, critique my post.  And a fine critique it is.   I was just getting ready to unscrew a fresh bottle of Thunderbird but will remain sober (well, I’m never really sober!) while I address your points.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce isn’t exactly a non-partisan source of information. Using them as a source completely undermines your premise.  The Chamber is the largest lobbyist organization in the U.S. They outspend their nearest competitor – Exxon – by 5 to 1 (source, L.A. Times). Most of their millions are spent pushing positions very, very friendly to the GOP.

Ah yes.  The old conflict of interest.  And I agree they’re partisan towards the GOP.  Hardly surprising considering they’re a business organization.  And I realize that whenever there’s a conflict of interest it taints the conclusions of the poll, study, or research which follows.

Although I cited the Chamber as the source, I should have provided a link to their actual Small Business Outlook Survey rather than the “news” reports concerning it.  That Night Train always causes some confusion.  Though belated, get it here (PDF):

http://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/reports/1107usc_summit%20_harrisnteractive.pdf

Like you, I wish there were some other less partisan survey but I couldn’t find one.

However, the Chamber didn’t actually conduct the poll.  They hired Harris Interactive to prepare it for them.  Still tainted, yes, but now once removed.  I don’t know if Harris lobby’s congress or not – I assume they don’t.  Please correct me if I’m sloshed.

Let’s look at how the poll was conducted (taken from the above link)…

  • Respondents: National sample of 1409 Small Business Owners and Executives (“small business owners”) representing both U.S. Chamber of Commerce members and non-members.
  • Sampling Error: +/-2.5%

The 12-page report it appears solid.  The questions & analysis seem fair to me.  Easy to understand along with numerous charts & graphs.  But let’s be honest – I haven’t completely recovered from last night and may not be the best to judge.

In the absence of other sources, I believe this is the best we can do at this time.

As tainted as the Chamber survey may be, I think you’ll agree it’s preferable to the survey of economists (sans research) on the hiring motives of business owners.  Economists opinions in this area, while interesting, are no better than the opinions of winos on the same subject.

Perhaps you’ll conclude that both surveys have problems and we simply don’t know why businesses aren’t hiring.

In my own ongoing, informal, anecdotal, mini-poll of business acquaintances, I’m being told they’re not hiring because of economic uncertainty followed by lack of demand.  They don’t want to take on new hires until they’re reasonably sure they can afford to keep them.  Health care costs and tax rates – along with the Presidency – may all be changing within 2 years.  Given this uncertainty, it’s better to have current employees work overtime or hire temps.

But then again, most of my acquaintances are known to guzzle cheap wine.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. PoliticalBitch permalink*
    July 26, 2011 12:56 pm

    Nicely put, PB.

    Good on you, for unearthing that nifty PDF of the Harris Interactive poll! I was too lazy (and possibly too enamored of my classic dry martini) to bother finding that.

    I’d like a look at the actual wording of the Harris Interactive questions. I still contend it was a push-poll topped off with a press release. Rookie political operative territory.

    Even though the questions aren’t printed, I think we get a good idea of what they were from the results. For example, on the poll’s major theme, “What are the major obstacles to hiring?” there appear to have been 5 choices. They were: economic uncertainty, lack of sales, uncertainty about what Washington will do next, requirements of the healthcare bill, too much regulation

    Those 5 choices are 5 GOP talking points; no wonder the results of the survey favor GOP platform planks!

    Regardless, in the end neither of us argues with the central truth of the poll — businesses aren’t hiring for two huge reasons: economic uncertainty followed by lack of demand. And I agree with you further: nothing much will change until after the election in 2012.

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