NFIB: Small Business Owners Pessimistic About Future Conditions

NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index decreased 0.1 point in November to 90.6, which marks the 23rd consecutive month below the 50-year average of 98. Twenty-two percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business.

“Job openings on Main Street remain elevated as the economy saw a strong third quarter,” said Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist for NFIB. “However, even with the growing economy, small business owners have not seen a strong wave of workers to fill their open positions. Inflation also continues to be an issue among small businesses.”

Key findings include:

  • Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months increased one point from October to a net negative 42 percent seasonally adjusted.
  • A net negative 17 percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, unchanged from October and the lowest reading since July 2020.
  • Forty percent (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, down three points.
  • Seasonally adjusted, a net 30 percent of owners plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up six points from October and the highest since December 2021.
  • The net percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased five points from October to a net 25 percent (seasonally adjusted).
  • The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher increased two points from October to a net negative 8 percent (seasonally adjusted).
  • As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, owners’ plans to fill open positions remain elevated with a seasonally adjusted net 18 percent planning to create new jobs in the next three months. Overall, 54 percent reported hiring or trying to hire in November. Of those hiring or trying to hire, 93 percent of owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.

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