NEW JERSEY 101.5

Small business owners in New Jersey are pessimistic, and they are blaming dysfunction in Washington as well as the political climate of the Garden State.

Flickr User meddygarnet

A new National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) survey reveals the organization's Small Business Optimism Index dropped from 93.9 to 91.6 in October, largely due to a decline in hiring plans and expectations for future small business conditions.

"Our members are not optimistic about what's going to happen in their business over the next few months, and 37 percent of them blame the political climate in Washington, D.C.," said Laurie Ehlbeck, NFIB state director. "There's going to be an increase in the minimum wage (in New Jersey) and we have things on the horizon like requiring small businesses to provide paid sick leave for their employees."

According to Ehlbeck, the recent federal government shutdown and massive problems with the rollout of Obamacare have rattled small business owners. She said Washington can't seem to do anything right, but that hasn't stopped the federal government from seeking more and more control over the economy.

Small business owners also aren't impressed by good news from Wall Street, as NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg explained, because they are more focused on policies like taxes and regulations that affect Main Street's economy.

"Everyday, they live the economic realities of overregulation, increased taxes, weak sales and a government without any direction or plan for the future," said Dunkelberg. "The average value of the index since the recovery started is 91, eight points below the 35-year average through 2007 and well below readings typically experienced in a recovery."

The deadline for a new federal budget is Jan. 15, 2014, and Congress continues to wrangle over the healthcare law. Dunkelberg said nobody should expect skies to turn blue anytime soon.

The NFIB Optimism Index examines the impact of major events with "before and after" interviews from small business owners. In the case of the government shutdown, the majority of the September survey responses were received a week before the end of the month. Two-thirds of the 1,940 October surveys were received and recorded by Oct. 20, the height of the shutdown debate.