Small Business Optimism Index Increases Slightly in January

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index increased 0.5 points in January to 90.3, remaining below the 49-year average of 98. Down six points from last month, 26 percent of owners reported inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business. Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months improved six points from December to a net negative 45 percent.

“While inflation is starting to ease for small businesses, owners remain cynical about future business conditions,” said Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist for NFIB. “Owners have a negative outlook on the small business economy but continue to try to fill open positions and return to a full staff to improve productivity.”

Key findings include:

  • Forty-five percent of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, up four points from December, remaining historically very high.
  • The net percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased one point to a net 42 percent seasonally adjusted, too high for 2 percent target.
  • The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher worsened four points from December to a net negative 14 percent.

As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 57 percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire in January. Of those hiring or trying to hire, 91 percent of owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.

This survey was conducted in January 2023.

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