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SBE Council survey: Small businesses getting slammed by rising gas prices

Results of a survey released by the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) find that high gas prices are taking their toll on the nation’s small business owners. In the group’s most recent “Entrepreneurs & the Economy: Trends, Issues and Outlook” survey, 72% of respondents say that higher gas prices are impacting their business.

The survey, fielded between February 21 and March 2, 2012 by TechnoMetrica, polled 304 small business owners (overall margin of error +/- 5.4 percentage points at the 95 percentage level). During the course of the survey and following its completion, gas prices continued to increase. For example, according to the Energy Information Administration, the weekly average price for regular gasoline climbed from $3.641 per gallon as of February 27 to $3.747 per gallon as of March 12.

Small business owners are dealing with these higher costs by cutting employee hours and raising prices – two options that hurt their competitiveness and the health of the overall economy, according to SBE Council. When asked about their responses to higher gas prices:

•41% of small business owners said higher prices were affecting their plans to hire.

•22% of small business owners have cut back on employee hours.

•40% of small business owners have raised their prices.

Astonishingly, 43% of respondents agreed with the following statement: “My business will not survive if energy prices continue to remain high or increase further.” (23% strongly agreed with the statement.)

According to the survey, there is intense dissatisfaction with the overall direction of federal policies meant to help the economy in general: 61% of small business owners are not satisfied with economic policies from Washington. Only 6% are “very satisfied” while 30% are “somewhat satisfied.”

In terms of stress levels related to their business finances, 46% of small business owners are feeling the same level of stress today as in the past three months, 38% say they are more stressed, while 14% feel less stressed. Despite this, 42% believe their financial conditions will get better. However, 42% say they will remain the same, while 13% believe their finances will get worse.

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