Most small-business owners say the U.S. economy is in bad shape and getting worse, according to Discover Financial Services' monthly Small Business Watch index.
The Riverwoods, Ill., credit card company said Monday that a record 64% of small-business owners rated the economy as poor this month, versus 57% last month. The percentage of owners who said they expect conditions to get even worse increased 1 percentage point, to 74%.
The index, which was pegged at 100 when it was created in 2006, fell 3.2 points this month, to a record low of 71.4.
Macroeconomic trends are showing up in people's expectations for their own businesses, Discover said. The percentage of small-business owners who said conditions for their ventures are declining increased 2 points, to 53%.
This pessimism is reflected in spending plans. The percentage of small-business owners who plan to increase spending over the next six months fell 5 points, to 23%, though the percentage of owners who plan to reduce spending on business development fell 2 points, to 42%.
"Faced with a barrage of bad news about the financial markets and the economy, small-business owners continue to tell us that there is no end in sight to this economic crisis," Ryan Scully, Discover's director of small-business cards, said in a press release. "Most of their plans to invest in their businesses have been on hold for some time."