Opinion Poll: Small business owners support banning non-compete agreements
President Biden called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban non-compete agreements in his second State of the Union address. In response, the FTC recently proposed a rule to ban non-compete agreements, sparking a debate about the impact this rule would have on the business community. A new opinion poll of small business owners nationwide reveals that our nation’s entrepreneurs are being harmed by non-compete agreements, and they strongly support the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rule to ban them in most instances.
The poll reveals that nearly half of small businesses (46%) report that they were subject to a non-compete agreement that prevented them from starting or expanding their business. More than a third (35%) have been prevented from hiring an employee due to a non-compete agreement.
While some have argued that non-compete agreements will harm the small business community, the survey finds that the proposal has strong support among small businesses. Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) support the FTC’s proposed rule, with only 14% opposing the ban. Notably, those who currently use non-competes in their business are even more supportive of the ban (67%) compared to those who don’t (51%).
Importantly, a number of small businesses are using non-disclosure agreements to protect their confidential information or trade agreements (42%). What’s more, 69% believe that non-disclosure agreements can protect their confidential information or trade secrets as effectively as a non-compete agreement.
This poll comes on the heels of a recent Federal Reserve working paper noting the important role entrepreneurs who leave a company to start new ventures have in creating dynamic, successful firms. The data highlights how non-compete agreements can stifle free, fair and open competition and hamper entrepreneurs’ ability to start their own endeavors as well as attract and retain a quality workforce.
This poll reflects a national survey of 312 small business owners and decision-makers in the United States. The poll was an online survey conducted on SurveyMonkey on April 2, 2023. The margin of error is +/- 6%.