Speed Reads

Things more popular than Congress

Americans have almost three times more confidence in small business than big business

Americans' recent lack of confidence in Congress is legendary. According to the latest Gallup poll, just 7 percent of Americans have either "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress, down from 42 percent that did in 1973.

The institution Americans had most confidence in was the military, with 74 percent of Americans expressing either a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in America's armed forces.

Small business was pretty popular, too, with 62 percent of Americans saying they had a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in small business. That's significantly more than big business: Just 21 percent of Americans expressed confidence in big business. That's still three times better than Congress, but nonetheless pretty disappointing.

Why are small businesses so popular? Well, small businesses punch above their weight in terms of job creation. Small businesses accounted for 42 percent of U.S. private sector payroll in 2012, but they created 63 percent of new jobs, according to the Small Business Administration.

And one particular strength of small businesses is their ability to respond quickly to changing economic conditions. They know and meet with their customers face to face, and so are seen as especially suited to meet local economic needs. Meanwhile, big businesses are often seen as distant, impersonal, and unresponsive to local economic conditions.

Of course, big businesses can't really be quite as unpopular as people make them out to be. If they were, then mega firms — like Apple, Microsoft, Coca Cola, Intel, and Wal Mart — wouldn't sell enough products to stay so big.