Small businesses remain optimistic through the shutdown, middle market companies brace for a turbulent 2019 posted 02/12/2019

Press Release



Press Release


Barlow Research Press Release - February 12th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, February 12/Businesswire/ -- Small businesses ($100K-<$10MM in annual sales revenue) remain confident while middle market companies ($10MM-<$500MM in annual sales revenue) become increasingly pessimistic following a 35-day government shutdown. Small business confidence in the U.S. economy reached the highest level in seven years and middle market confidence in the U.S. economy falls to a two-year low, reports Barlow Research. 

According to Barlow Research’s Economic Pulse Survey conducted in the first quarter of 2019, small businesses have seen decreased sales and profits over the last 12 months. However, this has not stopped them from remaining optimistic about the next 12 months. Sales expectations for the next 12 months have reached their highest point since the great recession. Conversely, middle market companies have enjoyed stable sales and profits over the past 12 months but have become increasingly apprehensive about the future. Middle market sales expectations for the next 12 months have fallen to a two-year low. Furthermore, over half of middle market companies expect another recession to begin in 2019 or 2020, compared to just 35% of small businesses.

Increased small business confidence has not translated into an increased need for bank loans. Although applications for additional credit have rebounded from lows seen at the end of 2018, the expected need for bank loans continues to trend down. Likewise, middle market need for bank loans also remains limited, albeit more positive than the small business market. Middle market demand for additional credit has remained stable with 36% of companies applying for additional credit in the last 12 months. However, expectations to apply for additional credit have fallen for the first time over a year.

“The disparity between small business and middle market perceptions of the economy is growing. It’s encouraging to continue to see positivity in the small business market, but unfortunately, middle market metrics tend to have a bit more validity when it comes to what to expect in the near future. In the meantime, financial institutions shouldn’t anticipate substantial loan growth from either market” said John Barlow, President, Barlow Research.

The Economic Pulse Survey is a quarterly survey established in 2009 to track business recovery from the Great Recession and determine credit demand. The first quarter 2019 survey explores business confidence, credit appetite and outlook.

About Barlow Research Associates, Inc.
Barlow Research Associates, Inc. was founded in 1980 to provide research to the financial services industry. With a focus on the business banking segments, Barlow Research provides custom and syndicated solutions to the market research needs of small, medium, and large banks and FinTech providers.

For more information about Barlow Research’s Economic Pulse study, or to pose custom, proprietary questions in our next quarterly survey, contact Barlow Research Associates, Inc. (763) 253-1800,, or