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“Although the economy as seen through the eyes of America's small businesses has improved over the last year, recent trends show that small businesses overall are feeling less optimistic about the future," said Thumbtack’s Chief Economist Jon Lieber. “Expectations about future economic conditions have been on a five-month decline, and hiring expectations have declined slightly since March.”

Thumbtack recently released an update of their monthly survey of U.S. Small Business Economic Sentiment, based on the responses from more than 11,000 small businesses nationwide who are active on Thumbtack.

This survey tends to focus on sole proprietorships with less than 5 employees who make up the majority of small businesses in the U.S. but are typically underrepresented in studies. 

This month’s results show a further decline in how small businesses are feeling about the economy, driven primarily by a decline in their expectations about the future:

  • July saw a continuation of the deterioration in small business sentiment that began at the end of 2014.
  • Small businesses have reported increased pessimism about future economic conditions, after optimism peaked in December of 2014.
  • Expectations for hiring new workers has declined from a high in March of 2015.

The top five problems cited by owners are:

  • Access to credit (17.2%)
  • Uncertain economic conditions (16.7%)
  • Cost/quality of labor (11.9%)
  • Taxes (10.3%)
  • Competition from big business or overseas (9.7%)

To see more details by state and city, see the interactive map.