Small Business Optimism Remains Strong in April

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index decreased 0.2 points in April to 104.5, maintaining the high level of post-election optimism. Five of the ten index components rose, while three declined.

Reported job creation has improved, as 55% of businesses reported hiring or trying to hire. However, 48% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Sixteen percent of employers surveyed cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their top business problem. A seasonally adjusted net 16% of owners plan to create new jobs, unchanged and a strong reading.

Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting better business conditions fell eight points to a net 38%, a sign that business owners were concerned by Congress’ tentativeness on healthcare reform at the end of March. The percent of owners reporting higher sales in the past three months compared to the prior three months remained at 5%. Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes rose two points to a net 20% of owners. Capital spending decreased five points as 59% of owners reported capital outlays. The percent of owners planning capital outlays in the next 3 to 6 months dropped two points to 27%, which is just below the highest reading since the financial crisis but well below historical levels for periods of growth.

Credit conditions mostly held steady, as 3% of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not met, a decrease of one point from March. Only 2% of business owners surveyed reported that financing was their top business problem, unchanged from the past five months.

Read the NFIB report.