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Florida small business confidence slows in June, new report says

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

For the third month in a row, Florida small business owners are taking a fairly cautious view of the U.S. economy, according to a new report from consumer service provider Thumbtack.

However, reported sentiment over both current and future economic conditions remains higher than one year ago.

On Tuesday, Thumbtack.com released the third installment of its Small Business Sentiment Survey, a monthly assessment of more than 10,000 U.S. independent businesses. The report includes more than 1,000 responses from Florida.

Launched in 2009, Thumbtack is a consumer service that helps customers find local professionals and negotiate jobs online.

Designed in cooperation with the financial software, data and media company Bloomberg, the monthly Sentiment Survey was developed as part of Bloomberg’s Professional Services. Thumbtack.com has studied small businesses quarterly since December 2012, with monthly reports since March.

“The third monthly release of Thumbtack’s Small Business Sentiment Index reflects a slowdown in economic conditions that started at the beginning of the year,” said Thumbtack Chief Economist Jon Lieber. “These businesses operate in homes across America and by studying their sentiment we can gain a unique view into the leading edge of household consumption.”

Factors that make the Thumbtack survey unique include the ability to study a large number of small businesses regularly, with a focus on companies with less than five employees.

According to U.S. Economic Census, 90 percent of small companies in the country are small businesses with five employees or fewer. But until now, businesses of that size were difficult for researchers to gauge.

Thumbtack takes responses from a user base of 150,000 active service professionals, most of them sole proprietors in service industries.

June’s Florida findings include a slight downturn in confidence levels, especially in expectations about both the future economic environment and hiring. In comparison, Southern states have been generally reporting a stronger economic optimism than other parts of the country.

Nationally, small businesses across the country expressed higher pessimism over the country’s economic future, which researchers believe is the largest contributor to the decline in overall sentiment.

Questions on the survey include feelings about the general economic environment and health of their business. Owners were also asked to rate their current financial situation and forecast any pricing changes for clients, as well as any attempts to fill part-time or full-time positions over the past three months.

Responses were turned into a weighted index – the overall Small Business Economic Sentiment – in an easy-to-understand number between 0 and 100. An index score above 50 is positive sentiment; below 46 means the sentiment is negative. Thumbtack also offers pro users a data visualization that captures national survey results, broken down by state and with quotes from those professionals surveyed. An infographic will include detailed demographic breakdowns of responses by age, gender, ethnic origin, and employer status.

Results are available Tuesday prior to the first Friday of the month; data visualizations are updated the same day on the Thumbtack website.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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