Small Businesses to Government: We Need More Certainty, Not More Meddling

Anxiety emanating from Washington is stifling job creation, chamber says.

It's been said that most new jobs are created by small businesses. A newly released survey commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sheds light on why many small businesses aren't hiring right now.

A majority of respondents to a national survey of 1,409 small-business owners and executives (64%) said they do not plan to hire additional employees this year, according to the chamber.

More than half of the small businesses (55%) said overall uncertainty of the economy is the biggest or second biggest obstacle to hiring new employees.

Another 34% said the uncertainty emanating from Washington -- where President Obama and Republicans are trying to hammer out a debt-reduction deal to avoid a U.S. default -- is the biggest or second biggest obstacle.

Lack of sales, at 34%, and the requirements of Obama's health care bill, at 33%, were among the other top obstacles to hiring, according to the survey conducted in June by Harris Interactive.

U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue concluded that Washington is the main culprit for the dearth of "Help Wanted" signs.

"The voices of these Main Street businesses are telling us plain and simple: To start hiring, we need faster economic growth and a change of course in Washington," Donohue told a crowd of more than 350 business leaders yesterday at the Jobs for America Summit 2011.

" ... The time is now for Congress and the White House to act boldly and restore America's reputation as a can-do country."

Approve Free-Trade Agreements, End Debt Crisis

Donohue asserted that millions of jobs could be created quickly by reforming the regulatory system, approving pending free-trade agreements and removing other "impediments to growth."

He said approving the pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama would save 380,000 American jobs and create thousands of new ones.

He also urged Washington to streamline the permitting process to make it easier to get projects started, as part of a reform of the regulatory system.

When asked what small businesses need most now, nearly 80% of the survey respondents said that Washington should "get out of the way," according to the chamber.

When asked if Washington should provide more help or more certainty, 85% of respondents answered "more certainty."

Donohue called on Congress and the White House to promptly reach an accord on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and on a plan that controls the deficit and the level of debt through major spending cuts and entitlement reform.

"It's an unfortunate reality but it must be done," Donohue said of raising the debt limit. "Failure to do so would have grave consequences for Main Street businesses and families.

"The most important role the government can play is to remove the impediments and reduce the uncertainties that have slowed our growth and shackled our job creators."

To download the "Small Business Outlook Survey," click here.

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