SOURCE: IPA

February 24, 2009 13:24 ET

U.S. Small Business Confidence Index Increases Six Points; Optimistic Outlook in the West/Pacific and South/Southwest States Drives the Higher SBCI, According to the Report Prepared in Conjunction With IPA

BUFFALO GROVE, IL--(Marketwire - February 24, 2009) - The Small Business Research Board (SBRB) U.S. Small Business Confidence Index (SBCI) increased to 36 points in the fourth quarter of 2008, a boost of six points (20%) from the previous quarter, according to a report issued here today.

The greatest increase in confidence is among businesses in the West/Pacific states where the index gained nearly 10 points from the 27.7 recorded in the previous study, according to the report co-sponsored by IPA. Business owners in the West/Pacific states reported they are most optimistic about their revenue expectations over the next 12 months. 41% of the respondents in the region expect their revenues to increase. 40% said the outlook for the general economy will improve over the next 12 months. 32% say they plan to increase hiring.

The Southern states are most optimistic in regard to the overall business strength with 55% of respondents reporting an increase in revenue expectations.

The most pessimistic region was the Northeast, where although the SBCI increased from 23 to 27 points from the second quarter of 2008, it fell nine points below the national average. This was led by 37% of those reporting who believe the outlook for the general economy will worsen in the next 12 months; this is five points higher the national average.

More than 500 small businesses participated in the SBRB poll.

Nationally, small business owners and managers throughout the U.S. reported higher levels of expectations for the next 12 months. 40% of the respondents indicated they expect the economy to improve. This is a 12 point increase from previously reported quarter. Of the participants, 36% expect revenues to increase and 31% plan to increase hiring.

Increased optimism in the West/Pacific and South/Southwest drove the overall increase and improved outlook toward the nation's economy in the next 12 months. Owners and managers in the West/Pacific recorded a regional SBCI of 38, 10 points higher than the second quarter of 2008. Respondents in the South/Southwest recorded a regional SBCI of 44, eight points higher than the current national average.

The opinions and projections about the strength of the economy, revenues and hiring looking forward 12 months are the three key ingredients to determining the SBCI, and provide the basis for these quarterly and annual comparisons.

SBRB CONFIDENCE INDEX COMPARISONS

                     ALL US      NE     Midwest    S/SW   W/Pac
SBRB Confidence
Index
Q4 2008                 36        27        34       44      38

Q2 2008                 30        23        30       38    27.7

Q1 2008              43.67        33     34.67    44.33      59

Q4 2007              33.67     34.66     27.67    33.33      37

Q3 2007              43.00     42.33     39.66    44.00   47.66

Q2 2007              46.00     47.66     42.33    50.00   45.66

Q1 2007              40.78     40.36     32.33    42.67   49.48

The Small Business Research Board ascertains and reports the opinions of small business owners and managers on a wide variety of topics related to their own businesses as well as national and international issues that may impact their operations. The SBRB conducts these studies for the benefit of small business owners and managers. The SBRB also provides opportunities for third parties to gain real time insight into the attitudes of small businesses nationwide through the independently conducted research.

The universe of participants is developed from among small businesses across the United States. More than 500 small business owners and senior managers participated in this SBRB poll. The SBRB study is a voluntary survey conducted via phone and e-mail.

The latest information about the Small Business Research Board can be found at www.ipasbrb.net.

IPA is the largest privately held provider of management consulting services to small and medium-size businesses in North America. IPA, and its more than 1,600 professionals, offer a wide range of proven and innovative methodologies to help businesses grow and prosper regardless of the economic cycle. IPA either provides directly, or through its affiliated companies, a comprehensive array of business advisory services, tax and estate planning services or merger, acquisition and other financial advisory services in the United States and Canada. More information about IPA can be found at www.ipa-c.com.

Copyright 2009 Small Business Research Board (SBRB)

For more information about this poll, results of previous studies or other matters related to the SBRB, please contact Jennifer Cumbee, (847) 495-6786.

(Note to editors: Historical SBCI text and graphic charts beginning with the winter reporting period of 2005 through the first quarter 2008 reporting period follows.)

             Small Business Research Board (SBRB)
             U.S. Small Business Confidence Index (SBCI)
             4th Quarter 2005 - 4th Quarter 2008
             -------------------------------------------
             Quarter:            SBCI:
             4th Q 2008          36
             2nd Q 2008          30.0
             1st Q 2008          43.67
             4th Q 2007          33.67
             3rd Q 2007          43.0
             2nd Q 2007          46.0
             1st Q 2007          40.78
             4th Q 2006          42.7
             3rd Q 2006          39.3
             2nd Q 2006          47.3
             1st Q 2006          52.0
             4th Q 2005          55.3



                        ALL US     NE     Midwest    S/SW    W/Pac
Economy Improving
Q4 2008                  40.00    30.00    33.00    55.00       40
Q2 2008                  28.00    20.00    25.00    39.00    23.00
Q1 2008                  42.00    28.00    28.00    42.00    67.00
Q4 2007                  29.00    29.00    24.00    29.00    31.00
Q3 2007                  37.00    33.00    32.00    41.00    41.00
Q2 2007                  43.00    46.00    41.00    42.00    44.00
Q1 2007                  40.07     44.2    31.50    43.70    44.10

Revenue Increase
Q4 2008                  36.00    33.00    40.00    50.00    41.00
Q2 2008                  40.00    32.00    39.00    50.00    38.00
Q1 2008                  52.00    45.00    51.00    52.00    61.00
Q4 2007                  48.00    52.00    39.00    46.00    53.00
Q3 2007                  53.00    54.00    49.00    54.00    57.00
Q2 2007                  58.00    54.00    50.00    67.00    64.00
Q1 2007                  53.71    50.00    47.50     54.8    62.87

Hiring Increase
Q4 2008                  31.00    19.00    28.00    44.00    32.00
Q2 2008                  22.00    17.00    26.00    25.00    22.00
Q1 2008                  37.00    26.00    25.00    39.00    49.00
Q4 2007                  24.00    23.00    20.00    25.00    27.00
Q3 2007                  39.00    40.00    38.00    37.00    45.00
Q2 2007                  37.00    41.00    36.00    41.00    29.00
Q1 2007                  28.71    26.90    18.01    29.50    41.48

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