Small Business Optimism Improves in March

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 2.4 points in March, measuring 98.2. This is the first return to average historical readings since last November.  Respondents report easing social distancing restrictions are improving business, however firms reported a shortage in qualified labor. The Uncertainty Index rose over the month, primarily driven by owner’s uncertainty about whether it is a good time to expand their business and make capital expenditures in the near future.

A seasonally adjusted net 22.0% of owners plan to create new jobs, up 4 points from the previous month. The percent of owners thinking it’s a good time to expand rose 5 points to 11.0%. Forty-two percent of respondents reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up 2 point from February’s number.

A net negative 6.0%of all owners  reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, down 8 points from February. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes increased 8 points to a net 0.0%.

Two percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied (unchanged). Twenty-seven percent reported all credit needs met (down 1 point) and 59.0% said they were not interested in a loan (up 1 point). A net 1.0% reported their last loan was harder to get than in previous attempts (unchanged).

Read the NFIB report.