For the last five years JP Morgan Chase has been surveying 2,000 small and middle market business leaders annually for their annual Chase Business Leaders Outlook. The 2015 Chase Business Leaders Outlook (which was released yesterday) disclosed that “small businesses’ optimism about the national economy is at its highest in three years”. JP Morgan Chase Senior Economist Jim Glassman joined me for an interview yesterday to discuss the 2015 Chase Business Leaders Outlook, how the economy is impacting employment, wages, healthcare and tax regulations and how social media and mobile devices are changing the way businesses are being managed.
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about the 2015 Chase Business Leaders Outlook?
Jim Glassman: “We do a survey of leaders in the small business community every year at this time of the year. We’ve done this for about four or five years and this year’s survey is really quite encouraging. We find that leaders of the smaller business community are becoming much more optimistic about the outlook, and what’s interesting about that is we know that general recovery has been underway for the last six years, and yet most of our small business clients have been kind of skeptical, guarded. They haven’t really felt a lot of what’s been going on, so this survey is telling you that many more businesses are actually feeling the benefits of the general recovery that’s been underway for a while.
It’s interesting because as a result of this new optimism they’re doing things, they’re thinking about the future, they’re thinking about their staffing needs, they’re planning to hire more to retain people, to attract people. They say they’re planning to increase pay offers.
There is a challenge trying to find people with the right skills so they’re having to develop in-house training programs and working with community colleges/partnering with them. Some of the very small businesses who aren’t even affected by the Affordable Care Act are offering more health insurance coverage probably to maintain a competitive edge with a job market that is getting a lot better. It’s very promising because to me a lot of the recovery that we’ve been seeing so far is being felt by the large business community. The fact that small businesses are starting to feel it tells you the recovery probably is spreading. It’s getting deeper roots.”
Candace Rose: How is the economy impacting employment, wages, healthcare and tax regulations?
Jim Glassman: “It’s all promising because as the economy does better, as businesses feel more confident that their own business is going to be doing better it’s encouraging them to hire, and as they hire they’re finding they have to compete a little bit more aggressively and pay offers they intend to offer, increases that are bigger than what’s been going on.
For the worker it’s quite encouraging because the stronger the economy is the more need there is for work, the more opportunities people are going to find. We still have a ways to go to get back to a fully healthy, fully employed economy, but to me these are good signs that we are pretty much on the way and we’ve been seeing that in a lot of the news related to the job market.”
Candace Rose: How are social media and mobile devices changing the way businesses are being managed?
Jim Glassman: “It’s affecting everybody, frankly. Mobile technology and social network is giving businesses another vehicle to reach their audience and to fine tune, to sharpen the focus on the audience and the client base that they want. At the same time it’s helping them to get more information about what’s going on, so it’s enabling them to run business more efficiently. At the same time, I think it’s just as important this technology is giving them an opportunity to get responses from their customer base, get reactions to how people are seeing their business and what they think about their service, so it’s helping them when things go wrong to quickly address problems. Like a lot of technology, it’s helping to run business more efficiently, more effectively, keeping your cost down. It’s a very big positive I think, particularly for small businesses.”
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Jim Glassman: “If you want more color and information from the survey that we took, you can go to Chase.com/BusinessLeadersOutlook.”