Women business owners are overall more optimistic that the U.S. economy is recovering, according to the Key4Women Confidence Index released Tuesday.
The findings indicate that women business owners were starting from a more secure position in April 2011 as compared with 2010, and they were cautiously optimistic about additional economic improvements.
The index, which is designed to investigate how women-owned firms are faring in the larger economy, is conducted in the spring and fall each year to track trends on specific variables of importance to business sustainability and growth.
The current survey for the index was conducted from late April to mid-May with some 160 women business owners who are members of the W-Biz Insight panel, a diverse group of women business owners whose companies have annual revenues from less than $25,000 to more than $15 million.
Employment Treads Water
The semi-annual Key4Women index, which takes a 12-month retrospective and forward view, appeared the same day the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported that its monthly Small Business Optimism Index fell slightly in May, the third consecutive decline as the economy struggles to recover. It said job market indicators continued to deteriorate,capital spending plans and inventory investment plans all weakened and inflation continued to rise.
Some of these results mirrored responses from women business owners. According to the NFIB, small firms experienced virtually zero employment change over the past three months. For respondents to the Key4Women survey, the employment picture showed little change from Q1 2010 to Q1 2011. Only 14% reported increasing employment, while 11% reported decreasing the number of employees.
However, 41.5% of women business owners reported that they plan to increase their number of employees during the next 12 months, with only 4.9% reporting plans to decrease employment. And 53.7% planned to keep their number of employees the same.