Get Started: Small business insecurity, optimism

NEW YORK (AP) — RETIREMENT INSECURITY: Small business owners are concerned that their companies will be hurt by the lack of retirement savings among millions of Americans.

That's the finding of a survey released by two advocacy groups, the American Sustainable Business Council and the Main Street Alliance. Seventy percent of the 515 business owners surveyed said a lack of retirement security can hurt businesses by undermining the confidence and willingness to spend among older people. Sixty-four percent of owners surveyed say the insecurity that older Americans face can also hurt businesses because it will force younger people to spend time and money to support their aging parents.

Studies, including one released last month by the Pew Charitable Trust, have shown that many people face an uncertain retirement because of reduced savings and high levels of debt. The Pew study found that people between 38 and 57 are struggling to save enough money for retirement.

The small business survey found that only 33 percent of the participants offer a retirement plan for their employees. But 60 percent either offer a plan or are interested in doing so.

UPTICK IN OPTIMISM: Small business owners are getting more optimistic about how their companies will be doing in the coming months, according to a new survey.

The survey released Monday by Capital One found that nearly half the owners surveyed, or 45 percent, expect their financial positions to be better in six months. That's up 7 percentage points from the bank's last survey, taken during the fourth quarter. Thirty-five percent said their companies' financial position is better now than it was a year ago, while 18 percent said it is worse. That's an improvement over the fourth quarter, when 27 percent said their financial position was worse.

The survey, which questioned 1,906 owners during late April and early May, is in line with others that have shown small business owners becoming more upbeat in recent months. One reason for the change is the fact that owners were concerned at the end of last year about the possibility of federal tax increases and budget cuts taking place simultaneously on Jan. 1. But most of the tax increases weren't enacted. And the budget cuts, which took place March 1, have not deterred businesses from modest hiring the past few months.

Still, despite their increasing optimism, owners aren't likely to start hiring aggressively, the Capital One survey shows. Two-thirds have no plans to hire in the next six months, a finding consistent with other surveys.

SMALL BUSINESS COMMITTEE AGENDA: The House Small Business Committee holds a hearing Wednesday on U.S. manufacturers, looking at their challenges and successes. The committee expects to hear testimony from 14 manufacturers from across the country.

On Thursday, the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade holds a hearing on the impact of increased oil and natural gas production on small businesses.

You can find more information about the hearings at http://smallbusiness.house.gov/calendar/

ONLINE SEMINAR: SCORE, the organization that gives free advice to small businesses, plans an online seminar on Search Engine Optimization — the technology that makes websites more visible in searches. It will be held June 27 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. You can register at http://tinyurl.com/lx2ua6r

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