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Economy in Brief

U.S. Small Businesses Develop a Less Optimistic Economic Assessment
by Tom Moeller  November 12, 2013

The National Federation of Independent Business reported that its Small Business Optimism Index fell to 91.6 last month. The sharp decline from an unrevised 93.9 in September was to its lowest level since March.

The percentage of firms expecting the economy to improve fell to -17%, its least since March. Just 2% expected higher real sales in six months, also the least since March. An increased 21 percent of firms had positions they were not able to fill right now, but a greatly lessened 5% were planning to increase employment. A lesser 40% of firms found few or no qualified applicants for job openings.

A slightly increased 5% of firms were raising average selling prices, but a lessened 18% planned to do so in the future. A greatly lessened 10% planned to increase worker compensation, the least since June.

The most important problems faced by small business were government requirements (21%), taxes (20%), poor sales (17%), insurance cost & availability (8%), competition from large businesses (8%), quality of labor (7%), cost of labor (5%), inflation (3%) and financial & interest rates (2%).

Roughly 24 million small businesses exist in the U.S. and they create 80% of all new jobs. The typical NFIB member employs 10 people and reports gross sales of about $500,000 a year. The NFIB figures can be found in Haver's SURVEYS database.

The Crisis as a Classic Financial Panic is Friday's speech by Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and it can be found here.

National Federation of Independent Business Oct Sep Aug Oct'12 2012 2011 2010
Small Business Optimism Index (SA, 1986=100) 91.6 93.9 94.1 93.1 92.2 91.4 89.9
Firms Expecting Higher Real Sales In Six Months (Net %) 2 8 5 3 2 3 1
Firms Expecting Economy To Improve (Net %) -17 -10 -2 2 -9 -9 -1
Firms Planning to Increase Employment (Net %) 5 9 10 4 4 3 1
Firms With Few or No Qualified Applicants For Job Openings (Net %) 40 41 42 38 35 32 27
Firms Reporting That Credit Was Harder To Get (Net %) 6 5 6 7 8 10 13
Firms Raising Avg. Selling Prices (Net %) 5 1 2 5 4 5 -12
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