Seventy percent of small business owners say the federal stimulus has had no effect on their businesses, according to a survey by Discover.

Seventeen percent of small business owners say it has actually hurt their businesses. Only 10 percent reported being helped by federal efforts.

Small business owners’ confidence in the federal government to help them out continues to decline: 76 percent of small business owners are "not very confident" or "not at all confident" that the federal government and Congress can address the needs of America's small business owners, up from 62 percent in February 2009. Only 7 percent are "very confident" that the federal government can address their needs, down from 12 percent last year, and 15 percent are "somewhat confident," down from 24 percent last year.

When asked if they are likely to hire new employees if offered a $5,000 tax credit, such as the one proposed by the Obama administration, 69 percent say that it is "not very likely" or "not at all likely," 15 percent say they would be "very likely" to hire, 10 percent say they would be "somewhat likely," and 6 percent weren't sure.

However, when asked the last time they hired a full-time employee, 44 percent said they have always been sole proprietors, while 30 percent said it has been more than two years, 11 percent in the last one to two years, 7 percent in the last year and 2 percent in the last month. The remaining 6 percent weren't sure.

Forty-nine percent of owners have experienced cash flow issues in the past 90 days, down from 51 percent in January; 47 percent of owners have not experienced cash flow issues, and 4 percent are not sure.

The number of small business owners who think the economy is getting better is unchanged in February at 31 percent; 44 percent see the economy getting worse, down from 46 percent in January; 24 percent see the economy staying the same, up from 18 percent last month; and 1 percent are not sure.

Twenty-five percent of small business owners see conditions for their own businesses getting better in the next six months, down from 29 percent in January; 37 percent see conditions getting worse, down from 43 percent in January; 34 percent expect things to stay the same, up from 23 percent in January; and 4 percent aren't sure.

Four percent rate the economy as good or excellent, down from 8 percent in January; 36 percent rate the current economy as fair, and 57 percent rate it as poor.

Twenty-one percent of owners plan to increase business development spending on activities such as advertising, inventories and capital expenditures over the next six months, down from 25 percent in January; 34 percent plan to make no changes, while 43 percent will decrease spending, down from 45 percent in January.


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