NFIB: Small Business Optimism Improves, Uncertainty Remains High 

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Diners sit at an outdoor table at El Paso Mexican Grill on Magazine Street in New Orleans, Thursday, July 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

BATON ROUGE  – The NFIB Optimism Index – produced by the National Federation of Independent Businesses – rose 3.8 points to 104.0 in September, a historically high reading. Nine of the 10 Index components improved and one declined. The NFIB Uncertainty Index increased 2 points to 92, up from 75 in April. 

“As parts of the country continue to open, small businesses are seeing some improvements in foot traffic and sales,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “However, some small businesses are still struggling financially to operate at full capacity while navigating state and local regulations and are uncertain about what will happen in the future.” 

State-specific data isn’t available, but NFIB State Director Dawn Starns said, “Our members understand why they had to reduce capacity or close temporarily, but it has been a rough year for small business. Hopefully, the worst is behind us, and things will get back to normal sooner rather than later.”

Other key findings include: 

  • Earnings trends over the past three months improved 13 points to a net negative 12% reporting higher earnings. 
  • Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months improved 8 points to a net 32%. 
  • Real sales expectations in the next three months increased 5 points to a net 8%. 
  • Inventory investment plans over the next three to six months increased by 5 points to a net 11%. 
  • The percent of owners thinking it’s a good time to expand increased 1 point to 13%. 

Included in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, a net 23% (seasonally adjusted) of owners plan to create new jobs in the next three months, up 2 points from the August report and 22 points above April’s report. However, 36% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings that they could not fill in the current period. 

Click here to view the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Survey.   


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