Small Business Optimism Index Decreases in September

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index decreased to 101.8, 1.3 points below August’s reading. Twenty-two percent of business owners surveyed said the next three months was a good time to expand, four points lower than last month’s reading.

Job creation decelerated in September with a net addition of 0.10 workers per firm, down from 0.19 in August. This has steadily declined from February’s high of 0.52 workers per firm. Fifty-seven percent reported hiring or trying to hire, down seven points, but 50 percent (88 percent of those hiring or trying to hire) reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Twenty-three percent of owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their single most important business problem, down 4 points from August’s record high.

Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting better business conditions declined three points to nine percent. The percent of owners reporting higher sales in the past three months compared to the prior three months was a net two percent, four points lower than August. Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes fell three points to 16 percent of owners. Capital spending declined two points as 57 percent of owners reported capital outlays during the last six months. The percent of owners planning capital outlays in the next three to six months fell one point to 27 percent.

Credit concerns remained historically low, as just two percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied, down two points and back to its historical low. Thirty percent reported all credit needs were met, down one point, and 53 percent said they were not interested in a loan, up one point. Four percent reported their last loan was harder to get than the previous one, while only two percent reported that financing was their top business problem.

Read the NFIB report.