The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index increased 0.1 points in January to 105.9, the highest reading since December 2004. Five of the ten index components rose, while five declined. All of the index components have held near record highs since the remarkable increases after the election.
Reported job creation has started to pick up, as 53% of businesses reported hiring or trying to hire. However, 47% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Fifteen percent of employers surveyed cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their top business problem. A seasonally adjusted net 18% of owners plan to create new jobs, which is the strongest reading since November 2006.
Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting better business conditions fell two points to a net 48%. The percent of owners reporting higher sales in the past three months rose five points to a net negative 2%. Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes fell two points to a net 29% of owners. Capital spending decreased as 59% of owners reported capital outlays, down four points from December. The percent of owners planning capital outlays in the next 3 to 6 months fell two points to 27%.
Credit conditions held steady, as 4% of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not met. Only 2% of business owners surveyed reported that financing was their top business problem, unchanged from the past two months.
Read the NFIB report.