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New Survey Reveals San Francisco Small Business Economic Attitude in Never Before Seen Detail

New Survey Shows San Francisco Small Business Economic Sentiment in Unprecedented Geographic Detail

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — May 28, 2015 today released the Thumbtack Small Business Sentiment Survey, a first-of-its-kind survey that captures the economic sentiment of more than 10,000 small businesses nationwide, including 2,127 responses in San Francisco.

Starting today, and released on a monthly basis going forward, the survey and accompanying visualization allow anyone to explore American small business economic sentiment at the national and local level. Designed with Bloomberg, all data will be housed and integrated seamlessly into the economic functions of the Bloomberg Professional service.

The U.S. Economic Census shows that over 90% of small businesses in the United States have five employees or fewer. Thumbtack’s survey is the first small business survey whose respondents reflect this specific demographic. While there are various indexes and surveys that seek to measure small business sentiment, there are no other surveys that have enough responses from businesses of this size to examine results at a state or city level.

Via its network of more than 150,000 active service professionals, Thumbtack has the unique capability to regularly survey this otherwise difficult-to-reach population.

“We are excited to be able to share this new survey, which will capture the sentiment of thousands of small businesses nationwide on a monthly basis,” said Jon Lieber, Chief Economist of Thumbtack. “Many of these business owners have few or no employees, and are often overlooked in other widely-tracked business surveys. We hope to offer new insights and a better understanding into what’s happening in this critical segment of the nation’s workforce and the American economy.”

The inaugural version of the survey shows a slow and steady recovery among San Francisco’s smallest businesses:

  • While San Francisco ranked near the back of cities nationally, the city has nonetheless improved significantly in the past year, and even more in the past two years. SF moved up 7 spots in Thumbtack’s small business health rankings in just the last month.

  • San Francisco and the Bay Area reported stronger small business health than the rest of California overall, but less than the West as a region. Neighboring states like Nevada, Oregon, and Washington ranked higher.

  • Small business job growth in San Francisco has been more sluggish than in other cities. While San Francisco’s businesses are feeling better, they report less hiring in the past 3 months than they did over the same period last year.

  • The top concern for small businesses nationally is uncertain economic conditions, but in San Francisco the top concern is poor sales growth. So while the economic outlook is clearer, it may not be resulting in more sales for SF’s small businesses.

  • While San Francisco’s small businesses are not the healthiest nationally, they rank near the top in their expectations for inflation. Small business owners in San Francisco expect prices to rise more quickly than in most other cities and states.

See Full San Francisco Results Here

The full results for San Francisco can be seen here and include how businesses in each area responded to survey questions, and hundreds of quotes from small businesses nationwide.

Each state and city also has its own dedicated webpage showing detailed survey results for that area.

Survey Methodology has surveyed tens of thousands of small businesses quarterly since December 2012. The survey asked questions about how small businesses are feeling about the general economic environment and health of their business, such as:

  • How would you rate your company’s financial situation today?

  • Have you attempted to fill any part-time or full-time positions over the past three months?

  • How do you expect the prices you charge to your clients or customers to change over the next three months? and Bloomberg then used the survey responses to create a weighted index that demonstrates Small Business Economic Sentiment in one easy-to-understand number between 0 and 100 – an index score above 50 means sentiment is positive; an index score below 46 means sentiment is negative. 

The full methodology paper can be found here.

Beginning in March, 2015, Thumbtack began collecting results monthly for this new survey. Survey results will be released the last week of the month going forward.

For more information about the survey or the methodology, please email Thumbtack’s Chief Economist Jon Lieber at


About Thumbtack

Thumbtack is a consumer service that helps millions of people accomplish the personal projects that are central to their lives. Launched in December 2009 and headquartered in San Francisco, Thumbtack introduces customers to experienced professionals who are available, interested and qualified to meet their specific needs. Whether looking for a painter for their home, a math tutor for their child, or a DJ for their wedding, Thumbtack provides anyone in the U.S. with an easy and dependable way to get started, compare options, and hire with confidence. Thumbtack helps customers with 5+ million projects per year by introducing them to available and qualified professionals within hours. With service professionals representing more than 950 categories and operating in all 50 U.S. states, the company currently has more than 150,000 paying professionals available for customers. Thumbtack has raised a total of $150 million from Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management, Javelin Venture Partners, and Google Capital.

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