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Economy in Brief

U.S. Small Business Optimism Falls To Lowest Since September 2010
by Tom Moeller  August 9, 2011

The National Federation of Independent Business indicated that its index of small business optimism fell to 89.9 last month from an unrevised 90.8 in June. The latest was the lowest level since last September. Deterioration was notable for the percentage of firms expecting the economy to improve and for those expecting higher real sales in six months. Nevertheless, the percent of firms reporting higher nominal sales now held just below its April high and still was up sharply from the recession low.

The percentage of firms with job openings now reversed its early-year improvement but remained up versus last year. However, the percentage of firms planning to add jobs continued a downward trend versus Q4'10. The percentage with few or no qualified job applicants for job openings slipped m/m to 31% but still was near its highest since late-2008.

Firms indicating that credit was harder to get rose m/m but remained near its lowest since June 2008. However, businesses planning capital expenditures during the next six months remained down sharply from the March high. The percentage of firms raising prices fell to its lowest since February. While the percentage planning to raise prices rose moderately to 19%, it was down from the March-April high of 24%.

The most important problems faced by small business were poor sales (23%), taxes (20%), government requirements (16%), inflation (9%), insurance cost & availability (7%), competition from large businesses (7%), quality of labor (5%) and financial & interest rates (4%).

Roughly 24 million small businesses exist in the U.S. and they create 80% of all new jobs. The NFIB figures can be found in Haver's SURVEYS database.

National Federation of Independent Business Jul Jun May Jul'10 2010 2009 2008
Small Business Optimism Index (SA,1986=100) 89.9 90.8 90.9 88.1 89.9 86.7 89.8
  Firms Expecting Higher Real Sales In Six Months (Net %) -2 0 3 -4 1 -11 -7
  Firms Expecting Economy To Improve (Net %) -15 -11 -5 -15 -1 -0 -10
  Firms With One or More Job Openings (Net %) 12 15 12 10 10 9 18
  Firms Reporting That Credit Was Harder To Get (Net %) 10 9 10 13 13 14 9
  Firms Raising Avg. Selling Prices (Net %) 7 10 15 -11 -12 -20 17
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