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How Frustrated Are Small Business Owners With Washington?

Virtually every national politician professes to support small business, while the majority of small businesses owners say they’re disappointed with the folks in Washington. This isn’t unique to business owners, of course. The feelings between politicians and their constituents are often far from mutual.

To gauge entrepreneurs’ frustration levels these days, take a peek at this recent study (PDF) from Pepperdine University and Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. Conducted annually, this year’s version asked business owners 25 questions about their outlook for the U.S. economy, their plans to expand their businesses in the coming year, and perceived impediments to growth. Ninety percent of the 2,713 respondents had $10 million or less in annual revenue, and 94 percent had 50 or fewer employees.

Sixty-one percent said that instability in Washington was hurting their ability to hire, and respondents refused to congratulate Washington on averting the fiscal cliff, with 66 percent responding that the economic outlook was neither better nor worse after Congress completed its marathon negotiations.

To gauge confidence for the coming year, the survey asked business owners whether they planned to give employees raises to make up for higher payroll taxes (83 percent did not).

Last year’s survey (PDF) didn’t ask specifically whether government gridlock was affecting respondents’ hiring plans, so it’s difficult to say whether attitudes toward Washington are getting worse. One potential proxy: In 2012, 66 percent of business owners disagreed with U.S. policies to support struggling European economies. This year, 71 percent opposed support for Europe.

Clark is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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