Small Business Optimism Flat in October

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index was unchanged in October at 96.1 points. Five of the ten components posted gains on the month, while three components posted losses.

Business owners reported a halt in hiring activity, as owners added a net 0.0 workers per firm in recent months. Fifty-five percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire, while 48 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for their available positions.

Capital spending was unchanged for the second month in a row, with 58 percent of businesses reporting capital outlays. Only 26 percent of owners are planning capital outlays in the next 3 to 6 months, up 1 percent from September’s reading, as owners expect a continuation of economic “under-performance.”

The earnings trends index fell 3 points in October, as the net portion of owners reporting higher earnings fell to a negative 16 percent. Reports of increased labor compensation fell 2 points to a net 21 percent of small business owners.

Credit conditions remained satisfactory, as only 3 percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not met, up 1 point from September’s record low. Fifty-three percent of respondents explicitly stated that they did not want a loan, down 4 percent from September. Just 2 percent of owners cited financing as their top business problem compared to 5 percent during the great recession.

Read the NFIB release.