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Economy in Brief

U.S. Small Business Optimism Moves Lower
by Tom Moeller  April 12, 2011

The National Federation of Independent Business indicated that its index of small business optimism fell to 91.9 in March from an unrevised 94.5 in February. The latest was the lowest level since October. Deterioration amongst the sub-series was widespread. The percentage of firms expecting the economy to improve turned negative, falling to its lowest since September. Firms expecting higher real sales in six months also fell sharply.

The number of firms with job openings now remained constant at its highest since September 2008 but the percentage of firms planning to add jobs fell sharply. The credit crunch seemed, however, to ease as firms indicating that credit was harder to get fell to its lowest since June 2008. The percentage of firms planning as well as currently raising prices increased further to the highest since late-2008.

Businesses planning a capital expenditure during the next six months rose slightly and the percentage with few or no qualified job applicants for job openings slipped.

The most important problems faced by small business were poor sales (25%), government requirements (17%), taxes (17%), inflation (8%), insurance cost and availability (7%), quality of labor (6%), competition from large businesses (6%), 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.

The Big Impact of Small Business from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is available here

Nat'l Federation of Independent Business Mar Feb Jan Mar'10 2010 2009 2008
Small Business Optimism Index (SA,1986=100) 91.9 94.5 94.1 86.8 89.9 86.7 89.8
  Firms Expecting Higher Real Sales In Six Months (Net %) 6 14 13 -3 1 -11 -7
  Firms Expecting Economy To Improve (Net %) -5 9 10 -8 -1 -0 -10
  Firms With One or More Job Openings (Net %) 15 15 13 9 10 9 18
  Firms Reporting That Credit Was Harder To Get (Net %) 8 11 10 15 13 14 9
  Firms Raising Avg. Selling Prices (Net %) 9 5 -4 -20 -12 -20 17
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