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Small business owners are optimistic for growth in 2024

NEW YORK (AP) — While it seems increasingly unlikely the U.S. economy is headed for recession, small businesses still face headwinds like higher costs and difficulty retaining qualified workers.

But owners say they're optimistic as 2024 gets underway, according to a new survey from American Express.

Eighty-five percent of all small businesses surveyed said they were satisfied with the success of their business, and 86% said they achieved their 2023 business goals. In August 2023, by contrast, 80% of all small businesses surveyed said their long-term financial confidence was being negatively impacted by the economy.

“Even in uncertain economic conditions, small businesses continue to demonstrate resiliency and dedication,” said Gina Taylor, executive vice president and general manager of American Express' small business products & Business Blueprint. “Our latest data shows small businesses see a positive 2024 ahead and they’re taking steps, including hiring, and implementing new tools, in order to stay proactive and competitive.”

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Fifty percent of small businesses surveyed have plans to grow or expand their business in 2024. But only 28% said they plan on hiring more employees, as hiring and retention remains a sticking point for many small businesses, because larger businesses can generally offer higher salaries and more perks than smaller ones.

To help keep quality staffers, 57% of all respondents said that providing flexible work options was their top way to attract and retain employees in 2024.

Mae Anderson, The Associated Press