NFIB Small Business Survey: Stable In February

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for February came in at 101.7, up 0.5 from the previous month. The index is at the 79th percentile in this series. Today's number came in below the Investing.com forecast of 102.0.

Here is an excerpt from the opening summary of the news release.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index improved modestly in February, increasing 0.5 points to 101.7. Views about future business conditions and the current period as a good time to expand improved as did plans to make capital outlays. Earnings trends weakened, as a million laid off workers and others affected by the shutdown cut back on spending. The loss of sales falls right to the bottom line. Worker compensation and selling prices were lower in February than they were in January, but job openings rebounded remaining at historically high levels. The Uncertainty Index fell 1 point to 85, a small decline but still showing a lot of residual uncertainty from the government shutdown.

“Small business owners are thankful to have the government shutdown in the rear view mirror but need more certainty about the future,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan. “Small businesses put their money where their expectations are as we’ve seen when they get tax and regulatory relief. The best thing Washington can do for the small business half of the economy is to continue the policies – tax cuts and deregulation – that leave them with more resources to invest and find qualified workers.”

The first chart below highlights the 1986 baseline level of 100 and includes some labels to help us visualize that dramatic change in small-business sentiment that accompanied the Great Financial Crisis. Compare, for example, the relative resilience of the index during the 2000-2003 collapse of the Tech Bubble with the far weaker readings following the Great Recession that ended in June 2009.

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