Small business owners with between one and 10 employees are more optimistic about the economy than they have been in two years, according to a new survey by payroll provider SurePayroll.

The December 2014 SurePayroll Small Business Scorecard optimism survey found that 79 percent of the small business owners polled said they are optimistic, up from 70 percent a year ago and a dramatic increase from an abysmal 55 percent in 2012.

Profits and revenue back up the optimism expressed by small business owners. The survey found 61 percent had a profitable 2014 and 71 percent were more profitable in the second half of the year than the first half.

Looking forward to 2015, seven out of 10 small business owners expect increased profitability, and more than 40 percent of those surveyed said they plan to hire new staff on their payroll.

“For much of the year we saw optimism in the high 60s, so for it to nearly hit 80, that's a significant milestone going into the New Year,” said SurePayroll general manager Andy Roe in a statement. “The jump in profitability in the second half of this year really suggests they've got some momentum going and that could result in more hiring next year as well.” 

About half of small business owners are still concerned about slow economic growth posing a challenge in 2015, according to the survey. However, there have been some significant shifts compared to last year at this time.

Only 36 percent of the survey respondents said health care reform would pose their greatest challenge next year, compared to 55 percent a year ago. Just 21 percent see the federal budget as their greatest challenge, compared to 38 percent in 2013.

Last year, 27 percent said they would hire more independent contractors (1099s) than they did the year before. This year that number has dropped to 18 percent, suggesting there may be more full-time hiring.

Small business hiring wound up down just 0.4 percent for the year, according to Scorecard data. The South and Western regions of the country, however, saw increases of 0.7 and 0.8 percent. The average paycheck ended the year down 1.8 percent, though it was up 0.4 in the South.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access