Small Business Optimism Ticks Lower

The NFIB's November Small Business Optimism Index declined 2.6 points to 101.4. As NFIB notes in their report, the Index level is at a historically high level, with the 47-year average reading equaling 98. Below are a few key findings in the report:

  • "Earnings trends over the past three months declined 4 points to a net negative 7% reporting higher earnings quarter over quarter."
  • "Six percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem (down 2 points), but 24% said that labor quality was their top business problem (up 2 points)
  • "A net 24% of owners reported raising compensation, and a net 20% plan to do so in the coming months.
  • "The Uncertainty Index hit a record high of 100 in November 2016. The Index reached 98 in October this year, but fell 8 points to 90 in November. There are still major uncertainties to be resolved, most important the COVID-19 crisis and the Georgia election which will shape political control in the Senate."

Small businesses are an important driver of hiring -- thus, future economic activity. The 19 point decrease in businesses expecting an improved economy is worth paying attention to in the next couple of months. With the Optimism Index remaining at a high level, a reversal of this past month's decline would be impactful for economic growth expectations going forward.

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