Americans Trust Small Businesses More Than Any Other Institution

Submitted by Anya Crittenton on
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A new national survey by Pew Research Center reveals Americans trust small businesses more than any other institution. 

Of the 5,000 adults surveyed, 86% said small businesses have a positive “effect on the way things are going in this country,” compared to the 12% who said they have a negative effect. 

Pew asked the survey participants about several institutions in the country, including the military, churches and religion, labor unions, technology companies, K-12 public schools, colleges and universities, banks and financial institutions, and large corporations. 

As seen in the graph below, small businesses top the next-highest rated institution (the military) by nearly 30 points. 

The lowest rated, meanwhile, are large corporations, with 68% of respondents saying they believe large corporations to have a negative effect on the direction of the country, and only 29% stating the opposite. 

Pew Research Center graph shows Americans trust small businesses.

Support for Small Businesses Is Bipartisan 

Unlike several other institutions, support for small business transcends political party lines. 

In the chart below, the blue dot represents people surveyed who identify as Democrats (or lean left) and the red dot represents respondents who identify as Republicans (or lean right), and the percent of each group who believe an institution has a positive effect on the country. 

Democrats and Republicans are separated by only one point regarding small businesses, averaging 86 points. 

Pew Research Center graph shows Americans trust small businesses and the partisan divide of opinions.

Other institutions share bipartisan agreements, like banks and financial institutions, the military, large corporations, and technology companies, but average far fewer points than small businesses. 

Democrats and Republicans are furthest on educational institutions, labor unions, and churches and religious organizations. 

The impression that small businesses have a positive effect on society has grown in recent years, as seen in the chart below. 

Since 2022, both Democrat and Republican respondents’ impressions have increased several points (five for Democrats and nine for Republicans). Other business-related institutions have struggled with people’s impressions of them, however. Both large corporations and banks/financial institutions have seen impressions dip since 2019, while tech companies, interestingly, have charted a more inconsistent path. 

Pew Research Center graph shows Americans trust small businesses and modest partisan divides in views of big business and technology companies.

Intrinsically tied to businesses are labor unions, which provide a way for workers to establish a better balance of power for their protection and rights. Green America and the Green Business Network support labor unions and striking workers, from advocating for living wages to safe working conditions

While impressions of small businesses and large corporations are nearly unanimous, labor unions paint a more partisan picture. 

In the chart below, Democrats have a clear majority of a positive impressions, while Republicans lean towards having a negative impression of labor unions. 

Pew Research Center graph shows Americans trust small businesses and a partisan divide when considering labor unions;.

Why It’s Important to Support Small Businesses 

In the US, small businesses represent the best of us: ingenuity, community, and perseverance. They are our hopes and dreams, the building blocks of our society, and—if we support them—ways to address and heal inequities. 

Supporting the green economy is more than being informed—it’s about actually following through and “voting with your dollar” as we call it. Where you shop and what you buy sends a direct message to business owners. And it helps them stay afloat in a competitive, deal-driven market. 

By helping small businesses not only survive, but thrive, there is a ripple effect that reaches out across the country, from reducing carbon emissions to supporting your neighbors and marginalized communities. 

Along with helping you live green, for over 40 years, Green America has been working for safe food, a healthy climate, fair labor, responsible finance, and social justice

The Green Business Network is the first and most diverse network of socially and environmentally responsible businesses in the country, home to both rising social and eco enterprises and the most established green businesses around. 

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