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Small-Business Optimism Continues to Be Low in September

NFIB News Release (10/13/15)

U.S. small-business confidence was lackluster in September, according to the National Federation of Independent Business’ Small Business Optimism Index. The index gained 0.2 points to reach 96.1 last month, and remains well below the 42-year average of 98.0.

Reported job creation returned to its best level of the year, with owners adding a net 0.18 workers per firm in recent months, up 0.05 from August. Fifty-three percent reported hiring or trying to hire (down 3 points), but 45% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. Fourteen percent reported using temporary workers, down 1 point after a cumulative 3 percentage point decline over the past few months. Twenty-seven percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, down 2 points from the highest reading for the year. Highly correlated with the unemployment rate, little change is expected. A net 12% plan to create new jobs, down 1 point. Historically this is a solid number and supportive of positive job creation.

“Small-business optimism continues to be stagnant, which is consistent with the expected economic growth of about 2.5%,” says Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist. “The percent of owners citing the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their most important business problem increased and is now third on the list behind taxes and regulations. This is the highest reading since 2007 and suggests that employers will continue to face wage pressure in order to attract and keep good employees.”