Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NFIB: Small Business Optimism Index "Stagnates" in May

by Bill McBride on 6/12/2012 08:19:00 AM

From the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB): Small-Business Optimism Index Stagnates: No Progress Made for Small-Business Sector in May

Dropping just a tenth-of-a-point in the month of May, the Nation Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Index of Small Business Optimism came in at 94.4. A reading of 94.4 is historically low and consistent with the sub-par performance of GDP and employment growth. The individual indicators were mixed, with expected sales in a three month decline. However, some employment components improved and profit trends remained relatively stable after its sharp gain in April.
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It appears that sales are improving modestly in the small-business sector. The net percent of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reporting higher nominal sales over the past three months dropped 2 points, falling to two percent, the second highest reading in 60 months (the highest was April’s reading of 4 percent).
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Twenty (20) percent reported that “poor sales” are their top business problem, up 1 point from April.
Note: Small businesses have a larger percentage of real estate and retail related companies than the overall economy.

Small Business Optimism Index Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the small business optimism index since 1986. The index decreased slightly to 94.4 in May from 94.5 in April.

For the second consecutive month, the "single most important problem" was not "poor sales". In the best of times, small business owners complain about taxes and regulations, and that is starting to happen again.

Small Business Hiring Plans The second graphs shows an index of hiring plans over the next six months.
Seasonally adjusted, the net percent of owners planning to create new jobs rose 1 point to six percent, confirming the 5 point jump recorded in April.
Hiring plans increased slightly in May, and has been trending up slowly.

This optimism index remains low, but as housing continues to recover, I expect this index to increase (there is a high concentration of real estate related companies in this index).

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