Small business owners less optimistic about the economy, survey finds

(The Center Square) – Newly released small business survey data shows that small business owners are less optimistic about the economy.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses released its monthly survey of small businesses, which found that last month that economic optimism dipped amid increased inflation.

NFIB said the latest report is the “21st consecutive month below the 49-year average…”

“Small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months deteriorated six points from August to a net negative 43% seasonally adjusted, however, 18 percentage points better than last June’s reading of net negative 61% and definitely at recession levels,” NFIB said. “Forty-three percent (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, up three points from August and remaining historically high as owners can’t hire enough workers due to few qualified applicants.”

Inflation soared in recent years before slowing in 2023. However, this fall prices spiked again, raising concerns that the decrease in inflation may be stalling or even reversing. The report found that 23% of small business owners report inflation as the biggest problem facing their business, tied for first with labor quality.

“Owners remain pessimistic about future business conditions, which has contributed to the low optimism they have regarding the economy,” Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB Chief Economist, said in a statement. “Sales growth among small businesses have slowed and the bottom line is being squeezed, leaving owners few options beyond raising selling prices for financial relief.”

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