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The United States labor force is built on the shoulders of small businesses. Over one-third of the workforce is employed by a firm with under 100 employees — whether that be in hospitality, food services, or startups. This number represents over 40 million employees[1], a number that with the fortune of a thriving economy, highlighted by the recent jobs report, will only continue to grow[2]. But the positivity of the jobs report doesn’t seem to be resonating with small business owners who are feeling something else entirely.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses has found that the optimism of small and independent business owners has waned. Their “Small Business Optimism Index” took into account small business plans to increase employment and inventories, as well as their expectations of personal sales and overall economic and credit improvement, all of which declined from December 2015[3]. The report points to the largest economic challenges facing small businesses today: balancing affordability with growth.

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