Small Business Strength Near Highs Featured
11 August 2017
The National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Index of Small Business Optimism rose to 105.2, just slightly below the post-recession high of 105.9 recorded in January. Seven of the 10 index components posted a gain, two declined, and one was unchanged. Small business owners reported an adjusted average employment change of 0.21 workers per firm over the past few months. Thirteen percent (up 3 points) reported increasing employment an average of 4.5 workers per firm and 11 percent (unchanged) reported reducing employment an average of 1.6 workers per firm (seasonally adjusted). A seasonally adjusted net 19 percent plan to create new jobs, up 4 points, with higher levels not seen since December 1999.Sixty percent reported hiring or trying to hire (up 6 points), but 52 percent (87 percent of those hiring or trying to hire) reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Nineteen percent of owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their Single Most Important Business Problem (up 4 points), second only to taxes. This is a particularly severe problem in construction (28 percent) and manufacturing (21 percent) where labor shortages are the top problem, trumping taxes and regulatory costs. Thirty-five percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up 5 points, the highest reading since November 2001.