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Poll: Small biz optimism hits bottom

August 9, 2009

Optimism Down as Small Business Owners Report Declining Revenues and Spending
Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index: Score Drops 20 Points; Credit availability and cash flow also among contributing factors
By Wells Fargo Bank,

SAN FRANCISCO — August 3, 2009, Small business owners’ optimism recently dropped to its lowest level in the six years of the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index history. Covering a survey period July 7 – July 14, 2009, the score now stands at negative 21 (-21), down 20 points from the previous survey (April, 2009), and 135 points lower than the Index high of 114 (November, 2006). This is the third consecutive quarter with a negative (below zero) Index score. A score of zero indicates that small business owners, as a group, are neutral — neither optimistic nor pessimistic — about their companies’ situations.

The Index is the sum of “present situation” and “future expectations” of small business owners for six key measures, including financial situation, cash flow, revenues, capital allocation spending, job hiring and credit availability. The “present situation” score dropped 12 points to negative 23 (-23), the lowest present situation score in the history of the Index. “Future expectations” dropped eight points to two, the second-lowest score since the survey’s inception.

About the Small Business Index

For the last 25 quarters, the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index has surveyed small business owners on current and future perceptions of their business financial situation. The Index consists of two dimensions: 1) Owners’ ratings of the current situation of their businesses and, 2) Owners’ ratings of how they expect their businesses to perform over the next 12 months. An Index score of zero indicates that small business owners, as a group, are neutral — neither optimistic nor pessimistic — about their companies’ situations. Results are based on telephone interviews with 603 small business owners nationwide conducted July 7- July 14, 2009. The Overall Small Business Index is computed from a formula that scores and sums the answers to 12 questions—6 about the present situation and 6 about the future. The Overall index can range from -400 (the most negative score possible) to +400 (the most positive score possible), but in practice takes on a much more limited range. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points.

About Gallup
For more than 70 years, Gallup has been a recognized leader in the measurement and analysis of people’s attitudes, opinions and behavior. While best known for the Gallup Poll, founded in 1935, Gallup’s current activities consist largely of providing marketing and management research, advisory services and education to the world’s largest corporations and institutions.

About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $1.3 trillion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through more than 10,000 stores and 12,000 ATMs and the internet (wellsfargo.com) across North America and internationally.

Wells Fargo is America’s #1 small business lender in total dollar volume according to the most recent Community Reinvestment Act data (2007) and the #1 SBA 7a national bank lender in total dollar volume (2008). Wells Fargo has loaned more than $39 billion to women, African American, Latino and Asian business owners since 1995. For more information, speak with a Wells Fargo banker, visit wellsfargo.com/biz or call the National Business Banking Center at 1-800-CALL-WELLS.

Note: Survey results available upon request.

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