NFIB Weekly News
NFIB Weekly News
Leading the News
President Hailed Record-Breaking Small Business Optimism.
Tuesday morning of last week, President Trump tweeted about the strength of small business optimism with Business Insider (9/11, Bryan) reporting that NFIB’s small business optimism index hit a record 108.8 for August. NFIB President and CEO, Jaunita Duggan, told Business Insider that “A lot of times when the optimism index has gotten up around this type of record, it’s based on expectations like is it a good time to expand, expected sales, and that sort of thing. ...The index is dominated in this case by business activity that actually grows GDP: job creation plans, job openings, capital spending plans, and earnings.”
NFIB Optimism Index Sets New Record. Business Climate
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for August reached 108.8, a new record in the survey’s history. The survey showed new records in job creation plans and unfilled job openings, as well as the percentage of small business owners who believe now is a good time to expand. NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan is quoted saying, “Today’s groundbreaking numbers are demonstrative of what I’m hearing everyday from small business owners – that business is booming. As the tax and regulatory landscape changed, so did small business expectations and plans. ... We’re now seeing the tangible results of those plans as small businesses report historically high, some record breaking, levels of increased sales, investment, earnings, and hiring.”
Trump: American Workers “The Cornerstone Of Greatness.”
The Washington Times (9/2, Harper) reports President Trump released “a rousing proclamation for Labor Day that reveals his admiration for the nation’s workforce,” noting the statement has nine paragraphs and “includes some strategic references to Mr. Trump’s productive labor policies.” Wrote the President, “On Labor Day, we celebrate the American worker: the bulwark of our national prosperity and the cornerstone of our national greatness. Since taking office, my administration has sought to restore the obligation of loyalty and allegiance that this nation’s government owes to its workers.” The article summarized key points of the proclamation, in which Trump stated “The dedication, resolve, and pride of the American worker built the greatest country in the history of the world — the envy of nations and the pride of countless millions — and now, we are bringing to life the next great chapter in the history of this magnificent Republic.”
US, Mexico Announce New Trade Agreement
The Washington Post (8/27, Werner) reports President Trump on Monday announced the US and Mexico will enter a new trade agreement separate from NAFTA that “was narrowly focused on auto manufacturing.” Trump said the agreement may or may not include Canada.
The New York Times (8/27, Swanson, Rogers) reports the deal settles “a big source of friction, but leaves aside other contentious issues that affect all three countries.” The new agreement requires congressional approval.
Reuters (8/27, Rampton, Mason) reports the agreement between the US and Mexico puts pressure on Canada to go along with renegotiation of the NAFTA deal. Both Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said talks with Canada would begin soon.
Youth Unemployment At 52-Year Low.
The Wall Street Journal (8/16, Duehren, Subscription Publication) reports that the unemployment rate for Americans ages 16-24 is at its lowest since 1966. The unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, down from 9.6 percent last year. However, the share of young people looking for work is below the peak hit in 1989.
In Tweet Today, Trump Touts Youth Employment Data, Economic Growth Rate. President Trump tweeted on Friday, “Just announced, youth unemployment is at a 50 year low! @foxandfriends” Trump also tweeted, “The U.S. has more than double the growth rate than it had 18 months ago.”
Optimism Index Reaches Second-Highest Level In SBET History.
NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index marked the second highest level in 45-year history of the Small Business Economic Trends (8/14) survey in July. The SBET hit 107.9, rising to within 0.1 point of the July 1983 record high of 108. The July 2018 report also set new records for reports of job creation plans and job openings. NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan was quoted saying, “Small business owners are leading this economy and expressing optimism rivaling the highest levels in history. ... Expansion continues to be a priority for small businesses who show no signs of slowing as they anticipate more sales and better business conditions.” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg was quoted saying, “Despite challenges in finding qualified workers to fill a record number of job openings, they’re taking advantage of this economy and pursuing growth.”
WSJournal A1: Tax Reform Has Yet To Result In Repatriated Cash Trump Promised.
A front-page analysis by the Wall Street Journal (9/16, A1, Rubin, Francis, Subscription Publication) found that last year’s tax reform, which President Trump said would bring money from US firms’ offshore holdings, has yet to make significant progress toward that goal.
In Michigan, Pence Touts Administration’s Accomplishments. Small Business Marketing
Vice President Pence visited Grand Rapids, Michigan last Wednesday, where he headlined a tax cuts event. MLive (MI) (9/12, McVicar) reported that during remarks at an event at Mill Steel Company, Pence “touted the economic impact of federal tax cuts, praised the Trump administration’s efforts to bolster domestic steel production and paid tribute to late Amway co-founder Rich DeVos.” Pence told the crowd, “When it comes to small business America, when it comes to steel America, you have a champion in president Donald Trump.” Pence went on to highlight that Mill Steel gave $1,000 bonuses to 400 employees after the passage of Republicans’ tax cut legislation in December.
Household Income Rises To Record Level.
USA Today (9/12, Davidson) reported, “Americans’ incomes are rising, and a declining share of households are mired in poverty” in “a sign that the healthy economy is lifting Americans across the financial spectrum.” USA Today added, “median US household income rose 1.8 percent to an all-time high of $61,372, the Census Bureau said Wednesday, as the West and Midwest notched the strongest gains.”
To the New York Times (9/12, Appelbaum, Pear), “a decade after the financial crisis, American families are finally climbing out of the deep trough created by the Great Recession,” though “the gains have not been equally felt and the numbers revealed a sharp divergence between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else.”
Analysis: Elimination Of Regulations Saved $1.3 Billion This Year.
The Washington Times (9/16, Miller) reported that according to an American Action Forum analysis, the Administration scrapped federal regulations “at a record pace this year and saved taxpayers $1.3 billion, double the goal set by the president.” According to Casey Mulligan, chief economist of the President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, the savings are actually higher because the Obama Administration underestimated the cost of the bureaucracy.
US Retail Sales, Industrial Production Increased In August.
The Wall Street Journal (9/14, Torry, Subscription Publication) reported the Commerce Department said last Friday that US retail sales rose 0.1 percent in August over a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted $509 billion. Reuters (9/14, Mutikani) reported the increase in retail sales marked the “smallest gain in six months in August as consumers cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and clothing, but upward revisions to July data kept intact expectations of strong economic growth in the third quarter.”
IRS Delays Decision On Tax Reform’s Foreign Tax Issue.
Bloomberg News (9/14, Davison, Browning, Versprille) reported that US businesses will have to wait “for at least another two months” for IRS guidance on a new foreign levy in the tax overhaul. The agency “proposed regulations on Thursday spanning 157 pages that provide some details on which assets are subject to the tax,” but did not address “to what extent multinational companies can use foreign tax credits and business expenses to offset the levy.” Bloomberg analyst Andrew Silverman explained the companies “are essentially left in limbo,” and are unable “to get to a level of comfort to complete tax returns and file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
Report Shows How Brands Use Amazon’s Ad Options Successfully.
Retail Dive (9/13) said that according to Gartner L2’s “Amazon Winner’s Circle” report, Levi Strauss & Co. has found success with sales and advertising on Amazon. Levi “funneled ad spend away from YouTube and directed ad referrals to its branded Amazon page,” increasing its share of Amazon ad impressions from three to 30 percent. This web traffic boost increased the store’s organic visibility in Google search results, driving “more consumers to an Amazon page with Levi’s merchandise and away from traditional Amazon search pages where competitors also run ads.” Gartner L2’s report “should help shed some light on how different brands are using Amazon’s various ad options successfully.”
USPS Partners With Bentley University On Direct Mail Marketing Class. Wages and Benefits
New Kerala (IND) (9/16) reported that Bentley University is partnering with USPS on a new class on direct mail marketing. USPS “plans to use this unusual partnership between industry and higher education as a national model, taking the course developed at Bentley to other universities across the country to demonstrate the value of direct mail.” Students in the class will learn about “direct mail technologies and strategies and participate in hands-on learning projects in which they create direct mail campaigns for small businesses.”
Salesforce Announces Sales Cloud Updates And New Cloud Customer.
ZDNet (9/6, Gagliordi) reported on Salesforce’s announcement of new updates to its Sales Cloud platform, with the aim of improving “prospecting, billing and marketing automation.”
New USPS Rule Would Limit Marketing Mail To Paper Products.
Promo Marketing (9/7, Menapace) reported the United States Postal Service recently “announced that it is ‘contemplating amendment’ of its mailing standards for domestic mail, changing the standards for letter-size and flat-size pieces” to “limit all mail that is shipped as Marketing Mail, ‘regular and nonprofit, letter-size and flat-size, to content that is only paper-based/printed matter; no merchandise or goods will be allowed of any type regardless of ‘value’.”
Rung: Online Marketplaces Can Help Government Agencies Comply With Competition Requirements
ExecutiveBiz (8/31, Edwards) reported Amazon Business Director of Government Anne Rung “has said online marketplaces could help federal agencies comply with competition requirements and achieve spending transparency and competitive pricing in terms of government procurement.” ExecutiveBiz reported that in a Fedscoop (8/30) piece from Thursday, she “wrote...that agencies seeking to meet their small business spending goals could benefit from such online platforms.” Rung said, “Online marketplaces can help drive more spending to woman-, minority-, and veteran-owned small businesses through seller tools that allow them to easily onboard, identify themselves as a registered small business, and start selling to government customers.” She also “noted how online marketplaces facilitate compliance and controls and enable agencies to get detailed information on delivery times, prices paid and small business spending through analytics tools.”
New Provision To Improve Small Businesses’ Access To Capital.
CNN Money (8/26) reported that the defense bill recently signed by President Trump includes a provision that aims to address wealth inequality in America. Previously known as the Main Street Employee Ownership Act, the mandate was “tacked on by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.” The package “directs the Small Business Administration to make its loan guarantee programs more readily available to employee stock ownership plans and worker-owned cooperatives, which often have trouble accessing capital through regular banks.” It also “makes it easier for a business to transition to worker ownership.”
NYTimes Analysis: Trump “Vulnerable” Over Warning That Democrats Will Target Entitlements.
The New York Times (9/14, Shear) reported that President Trump told Montana voters last week that Democrats would go after their Medicare and Social Security benefits, in a move echoing his 2016 campaign. The accusation “runs counter to many in his own party, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who have long argued for cuts in entitlement programs.” The Times also argued Trump “is vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy for championing a tax cut even as the financial outlook for entitlement programs has worsened.”
Some Startup Insurance Companies Providing Plans With No Deductibles Or Coinsurance.
Modern Healthcare (9/15, Livingston, Subscription Publication) reported that frustrated “with rising healthcare costs, Dove Healthcare, a skilled-nursing facility in South Eau Claire, Wis., opted to do away with its Medica high-deductible health plans and offer its 500 full-time workers coverage with no deductibles and no coinsurance through startup Bind Benefits.” This plan has “lower premiums and straightforward copayments; employees can use a web tool to determine copayments before buying a healthcare service.” The article said “Bind, which has financial backing from industry giants UnitedHealth Group and Ascension, isn’t the only anti-deductible insurance startup bucking the trend of shifting more costs onto employees’ shoulders in favor of models that offer better price certainty.” A company “called Centivo also eliminated deductibles if members seek care that is coordinated by a primary-care doctor.”
August Saw More Growth In Jobs And Wages.
The Washington Post (9/7, Long) reported the Labor Department announced on Friday that “hiring picked up in August and so did worker pay – registering the fastest wage growth since 2009 in an encouraging sign that wages may finally be moving higher after years of sluggish gains.” The Post reported that August “was the 95th straight month the U.S. economy added jobs, with a robust 201,000 job gains...while wages for U.S. workers grew at 2.9 percent in the past year. The national unemployment rate remained at 3.9 percent, one of the lowest levels in half a century.”
Obamacare Marketplaces Expected To Stabilize Next Year.
The AP (9/7, Hoyer, Alonso-Zaldivar) reported that an analysis by consulting firm Avalere Health found Obamacare marketplaces “seem to be stabilizing after two years of sharp premium hikes.” Patients covered under the programs “will see only modest premium increases next year, and some will get price cuts.” In addition, “Nineteen states will either see new insurers enter or current ones expand into more areas,” and no counties will lack a provider.
States Discuss Strategy To Defend ACA Against Suit Challenging Its Constitutionality.
The Washington Examiner (8/30, King) reported that “17 states are expected to argue next week that a legal challenge to eviscerate the entire Affordable Care Act should be thrown out because it makes no sense.” They will contend “that, contrary to the legal argument advanced by red-state attorneys general, Congress still has the full authority to implement the law even after the loss of the financial penalty for the individual mandate, which Congress repealed starting in 2019 as part of tax reform.” The states are “defending the law next Wednesday in a federal hearing in Fort Worth on a preliminary injunction from Texas and 19 other states. Texas is seeking to halt federal enforcement of Obamacare while the lawsuit is being argued.”
WSJournal Analysis: US-Mexico Deal Contains Labor Union’s Requests.
The Wall Street Journal (8/30, Zumbrun, Subscription Publication) said that a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada could benefit US labor unions. Last summer, the AFL-CIO promoted a list of changes it wanted to see in a revised deal with the two nations, and the agreement with Mexico announced Monday by Trump contains some of them.