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TO BUSINESS, AND NATIONAL EDITORS:

Local Economic Outlook Pushes Small Business Optimism to Record High

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Q2 MetLife &

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index (Index) released today

recorded an overall score of 68.7, up 2.4 points from the Q1 score of

66.3, driven in part by the strongest local economic outlook on

record, a firmer hiring environment, and a stronger backdrop for

investing. Two out of every three small business owners are optimistic

about their company and the small business environment in the United

States.

Small business sentiment rose for the fifth consecutive quarter with a

majority (62 percent) of small businesses expecting higher earnings

and an increase in revenue one year from now. The increase was up one

percentage point from last quarter. In Q2 2018, 18 percent of small

businesses reported increasing staff over the past year, compared to

16 percent last quarter and 15 percent this time last year. Cash flow

considerations have remained stable and strong, with more than

three-quarters of small business owners (79 percent) feeling

comfortable.

"It's important to continue to break down barriers to growth and

create an environment where all businesses can thrive," said Suzanne

Clark, senior executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of

Commerce. "Small business owners remain optimistic and by taking

action to help alleviate some of their current obstacles and ensure

opportunity, we will in turn further increase Main Street optimism."

While small business owners are optimistic overall, there are some

differences between male and female small business owners on some of

the index indicators. The majority (64 percent) of male-owned

businesses report good overall health, versus 51 percent of

female-owned ones. Male business owners are also more confident when

it comes to cash flow and their national economic outlook.

Seventy percent of women-owned small businesses report being

comfortable with their current cash flow, compared to 83 percent of

male-owned small businesses.

Conversely, women reported higher optimism than men in other

indicators. Female-led small businesses are more optimistic about the

year ahead than their male counterparts with 65 percent of woman-owned

small businesses expecting higher revenue in the next 12 months

compared to 61 percent of male-owned small businesses. Women also

anticipate more hiring growth (36 percent) compared to men (30

percent) and a greater increase in investment (30 percent to 28

percent, respectively).

"Our quarterly Small Business Index is all about tracking the

sentiment of small business owners as well as discovering the

challenges they face," said Jessica Moser, senior vice president,

Small Business Solutions in MetLife's Group Benefits business. "With

60 million Americans working for small businesses across the country,

we need to focus on solutions to support their growth and success."

Overall, small business sentiment rose across all regions. The local

economy continues to be the primary driver for the experiences of

small businesses with 48 percent noting their local economic health as

good, tied for the strongest mark since the Index began. As the U.S.

economy continues its steady progress, the local business outlook

appears to be strengthening with the Midwest and Northeast regions

feeling the most buoyant about their prospects. Southern small

business owners' confidence has softened from Q1 (19 points to 43

percent), but was still up from last year.

About the Small Business Index The Index is part of a multiyear

collaboration by MetLife and the U.S. Chamber to elevate the voice of

America's small business owners and highlight the important role they

play in the nation's economy. The initiative produces the quarterly

MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index; a nationwide

event series, and the annual Dream Big Small Business Awards program,

which celebrates the achievements of small businesses and honors their

contributions to America's economic growth.

Please visit www.SBIndex.us for the full results and methodology.

About the U.S. Chamber of Commerce The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the

world's largest business federation representing the interests of more

than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well

as state and local chambers and industry associations. For more

information, visit www.uschamber.com.

About MetLife MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), through its subsidiaries and

affiliates ("MetLife"), is one of the world's leading financial

services companies, providing insurance, annuities, employee benefits

and asset management to help its individual and institutional

customers navigate their changing world. Founded in 1868, MetLife has

operations in more than 40 countries and holds leading market

positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and

the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.

www.uschamber.com  @USChamber             www.freeenterprise.com

www.metlife.com/mysmallbusiness             @metlife

Contact: U.S. Chamber Bridgett Hebert (202) 463-5682

MetLife David Hammarström (212) 578-2736

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content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/local-economic-outlook-pushes-small-business-optimism-to-record-high-300656031.html

SOURCE U.S. Chamber of Commerce; MetLife

-0- 05/30/2018

/Web Site: http://uschamber.com

(NYSE:MET) /

CO: U.S. Chamber of Commerce; MetLife

ST: District of Columbia

IN: WRK FIN

SU: SBS ECO

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-- DC09501 --

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