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NFIB Survey: Small Businesses Believe It's a Good Time For Expansion

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NFIB Survey: Small Businesses Believe It's a Good Time For Expansion

NFIB Survey: Small Businesses Believe It's a Good Time For Expansion

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) recently released results from its Optimism Index survey, finding that many small businesses believe it's a good time to expand. The index was up in October with more small business owners reporting that they expect better sales.

NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg commented, “Owners became much more positive about the economic environment last month, which suggests a longer-run view. In the nearer term, they are more optimistic about real sales growth and improved business conditions through the end of the year.”

The Index increased to 103.8 from 103 the previous month, which extends a streak of positive months dating back a year, the beginning of which coincided with the election. Four of the Index components increased with expansion and sales expectations up six points. Job openings jumped five.

Business owners are finding hiring to be challenging these days, with the tight labor market getting even tighter, according to the NFIB. According to the survey's findings, 59 percent of owners tried to hire in October, with 88 percent of those reporting either few qualified applicants or none at all.

This is in line with recent findings from SCORE, including that over half (55.5 percent) of small business owners have found it more difficult to fill their hiring needs in the past six months compared to the period prior. SCORE also found that 27.3 percent of small businesses had job openings in that time period they could not fill, and over half (51.3 percent) found an inability to find qualified applicants was their biggest hiring challenge.

Since the latest Optimism Index survey release, the NFIB released a jobs report, finding that small business hiring plans reached an all-time high in November.

NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan noted, “We have never seen this kind of intensity around job creation in the 44-year history of the NFIB Jobs Report. This is a powerful signal that small business is roaring back to life and ready to lead another period of economic expansion.”

“Small business owners believe that next year will bring opportunities to grow,” added Dunkelberg. “They feel very good about the new management team in Washington, they expect Congress to reduce their taxes, and their customers are spending more money. All of that leads to higher demand for workers.”

On other aspects of the Optimism Index, he also noted that consumer sentiment surged due to optimism about jobs and incomes, calling this "an encouraging development." He also expects an increase in auto spending as folks affected by recent hurricanes replace their vehicles. He expects a similar increase in home improvement spending.

According to the NFIB, 52 percent of small business owners either hired or tried to hire in November, while 44 percent were unable to find qualified workers. 18 percent cited finding qualified workers as their second concern behind taxes. The labor market and job openings are both considered historically strong.

The SCORE survey found that 69 percent of small business owners are optimistic about their growth over the coming six months despite hiring challenges.