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Economy in Brief

Small Business Optimism Moves Further Sideways
by Tom Moeller   October 12, 2010

Small businesses see little to improve their sense of well being about the U.S. economy. The National Federation of Independent Business indicated that their index of small business optimism inched up to 89.0 last month from 88.8 in August. The figure has moved sideways since June when it fall sharply from earlier in Q2.

The largest September deterioration was in the percent of firms planning to increase employment as it fell back to the level 12 months ago. In addition, the percent of firms with one or more job opening now held steady at its recent high. The deterioration was prompted by a lessened percentage of firms expecting higher sales in six months while the percent expecting to make a capital expenditure in the next six months fell to the cycle low.

Fewer firms were planning to raise prices and the percentage fell to its lowest this year. The percentage lifting prices now also reversed its gain during August. In tandem, plans to raise worker compensation fell to the lowest level since January.

Moving upward was the percentage of firms planning to raise inventories. The figure rose to its highest since late 2008. Also moving slightly higher m/m was the percentage of firms raising capital expenditures. Finally, credit was seen as harder to get by the highest percentage since April. Poor sales were scene as the largest problem facing small business followed by taxes and government requirements.

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.

The Seven Faces of "The Peril" from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Nat'l Federation of Independent Business September August July Sept. '09 2009 2008 2007
Small Business Optimism Index (SA, 1986=100) 89.0 88.8 88.1 88.8 86.7 89.8 96.7
 Firms Expecting Economy To Improve (Net %) -3 -8 -15 8 -0 -10 -4
 Firms With One or More Job Openings (Net %) 11 11 10 8 9 18 24
 Firms Reporting That Credit Was Harder To Get (Net %) 14 12 13 14 14 9 6
 Firms Raising Avg. Selling Prices (Net %) -11 -8 -11 -21 -20 17 15
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