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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

NFIB: Small Business Optimism Index increases in January

by Calculated Risk on 2/08/2011 08:02:00 AM

From National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB): NFIB Small Business Optimism Index - Up Modestly

The National Federation of Independent Business Index of Small Business Optimism rose 1.5 points in January, a modest increase, opening the new year with a reading of 94.1. The slight overall uptick in optimism might have been higher, but was blunted by small business owners’ skepticism about the future and continued hesitancy to spend and hire. Weak sales is still the most frequently cited top business problem.
“Manufacturing and exporting are leading the recovery—industries and activities that are not labor intensive—while construction, an industry historically dominated by small firms, remains depressed,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg.
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. The index increased to 94.1 in January from 92.6 in December.

Although still fairly low, this is the highest level for the index since December 2007.

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

Hiring plans decreased slightly in January but are still positive. According to NFIB: "Over the next three months, 12 percent plan to increase employment (up 2 points), and 8 percent plan to reduce their workforce (down 1 point), yielding a seasonally adjusted net 3 percent of owners planning to create new jobs—a 3 point loss from December."

Weak sales is still the top business problem:
Only 3 percent reported financing as their top business problem, down 2 points from December. Twenty-seven percent of the owners reported that weak sales continued to be their top business problem (down 6 points) in the last month, followed by 19 percent citing taxes and 17 percent government regulations and red tape (taxes that consume capital and entrepreneurial time).
The recovery is sluggish for this index (probably because of the high concentration of real estate related companies), but this is the highest level for the optimism index since December 2007.