All factors have low proportion variance explained. What could this mean about the data?

I'm running factor analysis on a survey data set. Across any number of factors, the % variance explained for all factors is very low. No factor ever has a % variance explained greater than 9%. In basic terms, this means that it's not possible to construct a factor, or principal component for that matter, that accounts for or "explains" very much of the variability in the data.

Beyond that, what implications might we draw about the data? Does this suggest very high variances and/or covariances in the data? Anything else?

(I'm not expecting that there is a single thing we can infer about the data given uniformly weak factors, but I'm looking for ideas so I can then explore the data.)

• 0.09% as a maximum implies to me an average of the order of 0.05% and so ~2000 variables. One of us is wrong, I suggest. Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 16:37
• Perhaps he/she means 9%? Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 16:39
• I mean 9%. I edited to question to clarify. Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 16:42