44.8% of Businesses Reported Their Current Performance as Average

Biweekly Business Trends - United States - October 9 - 22, 2023

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• The U.S. Census Bureau’s recent Business Trends and Outlook Survey provides insights into small businesses’ perceptions of their current and future performance.

• Respondents generally viewed their current business performance as “Average,” with a more optimistic outlook for the future, where “Average” performance is expected to continue.

• The survey also indicates that a majority of small businesses were not using Artificial Intelligence in their operations in the last two weeks, and a significant proportion do not anticipate AI integration in their business processes in the near future.


Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and understanding their performance and outlook is crucial for economic analysis and policymaking. The U.S. Census Bureau’s recent Business Trends and Outlook Survey sheds light on how small businesses are faring and what they anticipate for the future. In this article, we’ll delve into the data from this survey and examine the small business landscape in terms of current and future performance, as well as the role of AI.

Current Performance: 44.8% of businesses reported their current performance as Average

In the survey, respondents were asked to describe the current performance of their businesses. The results indicate a diverse range of perceptions within the small business community. 

The majority of respondents (44.8%) viewed their businesses’ current performance as “Average.” A notable proportion considered it “Above Average” (22.1%). In contrast, fewer respondents characterized their business performance as “Below Average” (14.2%), “Excellent” (13.8%), or “Poor” (5.1%).

Future Performance: 49.0% of businesses reported their future performance as Average

Looking ahead, small business owners were asked to predict how they would describe their businesses’ performance six months from now. The responses reveal a distinct outlook for the future.

The data suggests that respondents are generally more optimistic about the future. A significant portion (49.0%) expects their business performance to be “Average” six months from now, with a notable percentage foreseeing it as “Above Average” (22.4%). Fewer respondents anticipate a “Below Average” (14.9%), “Excellent” (9.2%), or “Poor” (4.5%) performance in the coming months.

AI Current: 3.8% of businesses reported they used AI in producing goods or services during the last two weeks

Artificial Intelligence is an ever-evolving technology that has found its way into various aspects of business operations. The survey delved into whether small businesses are currently utilizing AI in their processes.

The data reveals that the majority of respondents (89.5%) stated that their businesses did not use AI in producing goods or services in the last two weeks. Additionally, a fraction of respondents (6.7%) were unsure or did not know whether AI was being utilized. However, it’s worth noting that a small percentage (3.8%) indicated that AI was indeed a part of their business operations during this period.

AI Future: 6.5% of businesses reported they will be using AI in producing goods or services during the next six months

Looking forward, the survey also inquired about the anticipation of small businesses regarding the use of AI in the next six months.

The majority of respondents (74.0%) do not foresee the integration of AI into their business operations in the near future. However, it’s important to acknowledge that a substantial portion (19.6%) expressed uncertainty about this aspect. A smaller percentage of respondents (6.5%) believe that their businesses will indeed start using AI in the coming six months.


In conclusion, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Business Trends and Outlook Survey offers valuable insights into the current state and future expectations of small businesses. The data reflects a mixture of perspectives, ranging from current performance assessments to future AI adoption. Small businesses continue to adapt and evolve in an ever-changing economic landscape, and understanding their sentiments is vital for policymakers and industry stakeholders.