The results of Union Bank’s annual Small Business Economic Survey are in. Business owners in the Pacific Northwest remain confident in their own businesses, but the outlook on the local and national economies isn’t as bright.

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Small business owners are confident in the future of their own businesses, but less confident about the future of the local and national economies. Photo by Rachel Coward.

More than half of small business owners in Washington and Oregon think that state and local economies have worsened and that the national economy is headed in the wrong direction, perhaps due to concerns about the upcoming election. Most business owners (42 percent) are concerned with how the Affordable Care Act will affect their business, followed by immigration laws (20 percent), equal pay (20 percent), and foreign trade (17 percent).

Things are looking up, though, as business owners are willing to adapt to this negative outlook. Nearly two-thirds of Pacific Northwest business owners indicated plans to spend conservatively, while 24 percent said they would decrease spending and 15 percent said they would increase spending. One in five Pacific Northwest business owners planned to make a significant change in the ownership structure of their business.

Despite these concerns, 78 percent of small business owners in Washington and Oregon are confident in the future of their own businesses. Most small business owners are working the same number of hours as they did this time last year and are also more likely to be approved for a loan or credit.

“Access to credit and alternative financing remain top priorities for entrepreneurs,” Kirsten (Didi) Hakes, head of the SBA Lending group at Union Bank, said in a statement. “The survey results reflect that more minority business owners are experiencing higher than average approval rates, and that is encouraging and consistent with the interest we continue to receive in the bank’s lending programs, such as Business Diversity Lending and Community-Based Financing, which help provide loan opportunities to women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses.”

Union Bank surveyed 654 small business owners in California and the Pacific Northwest. All respondents were small businesses that have been in business for at least two years, have owners over the age of 25, and have had $15 million or less in annual sales. Of the 654 respondents, 101 are located in the Pacific Northwest.