Small Business Optimism Index Remains Near Record High in September

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell to 107.9, 0.9 point below August’s record reading. This is the third highest reading in index history. Thirty-three percent of business owners surveyed said the next three months was a good time to expand, one point lower than last month’s reading.

Reported job creation increased three points, as 61 percent of businesses reported hiring or trying to hire. However, 53 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Twenty-two percent of employers surveyed cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their top business problem. A seasonally adjusted net 23 percent of owners plan to create new jobs, down three points from last month.

Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting better business conditions decreased one point to 33 percent. The percent of owners reporting higher sales in the past three months compared to the prior three months was a net 8 percent, down two points from August. Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes rose three points to 29 percent of owners. Capital spending increased four points as 60 percent of owners reported capital outlays. The percent of owners planning capital outlays in the next 3 to 6 months fell three points to 30 percent.

Credit concerns remained historically low, as just 3 percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not met, unchanged from August. Only 3 percent of business owners surveyed reported that financing was their top business problem, while 17 percent of survey participants listed taxes as their top business problem.

Read the NFIB report.

About Jack McCabe

Jack McCabe is a research associate in the Economic Policy and Research group at the ABA.
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