Pearl Jam’s ‘Wishlist‘ has always been among my favorite songs. Eddie Vedder‘s line “I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good” is honestly how I wish my job was. Unfortunately, 2024 has many anticipating very little in the way of “good news.” The upcoming election, ongoing economic anemia, unsustainable federal debt, nonexistent border security and rising cultural tensions have many projecting the onset of an “inflection point” in our country.
Some are even pointing to a so-called “black swan event” this year – a paradigm-shifting or “extreme impact” occurrence like the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis or the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 that fundamentally reorders our society.
How well America survives such an “inflection point” will depend largely on the strength and resilience of its communities – which are built (or ought to be built) around middle class family units, neighborhoods, community-based education, religious organizations, nonprofits and (most importantly) small businesses.
During the Thanksgiving break a few weeks ago, I took at look at the status of small businesses in America – and it was depressing. According to a report from Alignable, a business networking platform, small- to mid-size businesses (SMBs) in America were limping into the holidays – with 49 percent indicating they were earning “half or less than they did monthly” prior to Covid.
How did they end the year? Not well …
According to the latest Alignable survey data, 62 percent of SMB owners reported bringing in less revenue in the fourth quarter of the year than they did during the fourth quarter of 2022. That’s ten percentage points worse than expectations from the fall, when 52 percent of SMB owners said they anticipated a money-losing fourth quarter.
This isn’t a problem at the margins, either. A whopping 47 percent of SMB owners who lost money last quarter indicated they were “earning half or less of what they generated” in the fourth quarter of 2022. That’s nearly a third of small businesses … again, making half or less than they made a year ago.
And just to be clear: 2022 was no bang-up year for the economy.
“You might recall that Q4 2022 was not exactly a great time for many small businesses,” Alignable’s Chuck Casto noted. “This time last year, 58 percent said they made less in Q4 2022 than they did in Q4 2021, with 45 percent of that group reporting that they had generated half or less of what they earned in Q4 2021.”
Alignable surveyed 5,040 randomly selected small business owners surveyed from December 1 through December 29, 2023, adding those results to historical data from more than 100,000 other small business owners.
To view the full report, click here.
As previously noted, this media outlet is an unapologetic champion of small businesses – whose owners are “always the ones getting squeezed (and) never the ones getting any help.” Policymakers are always ready to bail out companies “too big to fail” – or dole out subsidies to politically connected corporations – but small businesses and the individual consumers they rely on are never given any relief.
In fact, they are forced to pay for the bailouts and subsidies.
“Rather than doling out billions of dollars in subsidies to large corporations, Palmetto State lawmakers and executive branch leaders must instead embrace long-overdue individual income tax relief,” I noted last month. “Only then will our economy experience the sort of organic, ‘from-the-ground-up’ growth necessary to create and sustain small businesses – and the safe, prosperous and competitive communities they support.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
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