Americans Still Love Small Businesses; Skepticism of Big Corporations Eases Slightly

July 17, 2018

This article is included in these additional categories:

Cross-Media & Traditional | Industries | Local & Directories / Small Biz | Media & Entertainment | Newspapers | Television

Two-thirds of the American public holds either a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in small business, reports Gallup in a recent survey. While confidence is small businesses has eased slightly from the past couple of years, it remains leaps and bounds ahead of large corporations.

Indeed, just 6% of American adults surveyed have very little or no confidence in small businesses. But 5 times as many feel the same way about big business. In fact, more people have very little to no confidence in big business (30%) than have quite a lot or a great deal of confidence (25%) in it. That aligns with separate research from Edelman, in which fewer than half of Americans said they trust business as an institution.

If there’s a silver lining to be found for big businesses, it’s that there’s been a gradual increase in the percentage of people expressing confidence in these enterprises. The 25% reporting confidence this year in Gallup’s survey is an uptick from 21% last year and 18% the year prior. Looking at the survey’s history, which is some 45 years long, the results demonstrate that confidence in big business is at its highest level since 2001, when 28% reported a high level of confidence.

What About News Organizations?

In an increasingly polarized political climate, it’s perhaps not too surprising to see confidence in news institutions decrease. That’s despite a report from Gallup late last year that found growing trust in the mass media, driven by Democrats, which Gallup at the time theorized was due to their perception of the media as a watchdog on the current administration.

Nonetheless, these latest results indicate that just 23% of adults hold a lot of confidence in newspapers, down from 27% last year. Furthermore, only 20% have a lot of confidence in TV news, down from 24% last year. Confidence in these news institutions was considerably higher in the 1990s.

Confidence in Banks Consolidates

As one might expect, confidence in banks as an institution tumbled in the recession years before reaching a low point of 21% in 2012. In recent years, though, banks have begun to regain the public’s trust, as noted in a 2016 study from Gallup, which found growing numbers of Americans across generations believing that banks make a positive contribution to society.

Gallup’s latest report reveals that only 30% of American adults have a lot of confidence in banks. But while that’s down slightly from last year (32%), it’s the first time in a decade that there have been 2 consecutive years where confidence levels have been at least 30%.

Coupled with the recent finding that banks are closing the historical gap with credit unions in customer satisfaction, and things may be looking up for these financial institutions… (Until the next recession?)

About the Data: The Gallup results are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-13, 2018, with a random sample of 1,520 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

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