Small-Business Optimism Perks up in December
The National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Survey rose 2.3 points to 100.4 in December, its highest level since October 2006, with positive gains in eight of 10 indices, a strong signal that American small businesses could be finally shaking off the effects of the Great Recession.
“The index showed strength in November but most of the gains were confined to just two categories. The December index shows much broader strength led by a significant increase in the number of owners who expect higher sales,” says Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist. “This could be a breakout for small business.”
Fifty-four percent of respondents reported hiring or trying to hire, but 43% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Fourteen percent reported using temporary workers, down one point. Twenty-five percent of all respondents reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up one point from November and a very solid reading. This anticipates a further reduction in the unemployment rate even if job creation is not especially strong. Job creation plans improved four points to a seasonally adjusted net 15%, one of the stronger readings in NFIB survey history. This is a number consistent with the stronger gross domestic product growth reported in the second half of the year and anticipates a ramp-up in private sector hiring.