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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NFIB: Small Business optimism improves in November

by Calculated Risk on 12/14/2010 07:52:00 AM

From National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB): Small Business Optimism improves in November

Overall, small business owners continued to report more improvements in the economic environment, but the gains were small. The Index of Small Business Optimism gained 1.5 points, but the reading of 93.2 is still very weak, closer to a recession reading than indicative of a recovery. Although the November reading is higher than the prior 34 months, it is still lower than the November - December, 2007 readings by over a point, and those were the lowest 2007 readings as the Index fell all year signaling the coming end to the expansion in December. So the Index has climbed from its recession low of 81 but is far short of even the average value of the Index prior to the start of the recession, and far below values that have typified a recovery period.
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 in new window.

The first graph shows the small business optimism index since 1986. Although the index increased to 93.2 in November (highest since December 2007), it is still at recessionary level according to NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.

Small Business Hiring Plans The second graph shows the net hiring plans over the next three months.

Hiring plans have turned positive again and are the highest level since mid-2008. According to NFIB: "Over the next three months, nine percent plan to increase employment (up one point), and 12 percent plan to reduce their workforce (down one point), yielding a seasonally adjusted net four percent of owners planning to create new jobs, a three point gain from

Small Business Poor Sales And the third graph shows the percent of small businesses saying "poor sales" is their biggest problem.

Usually small business owners complain about taxes and regulations (that usually means business is good!), but now their self reported biggest problem is lack of demand.

Overall this survey is showing improvement, but at a very slow pace.