The National Federation of Independent Business released is monthly Small Business Economic Trends this morning, with Small Business Optimism rising from 92.0 in November to 93.8 in December. It was the fifth consecutive monthly gain, up from 88.1 in August.
Along with the gain in confidence, the net percentage of respondents saying that the next three months are a “good time to expand” has increased to 10, its highest level since before the recession. Likewise, small business owners are also more optimistic about future sales, employment and capital spending.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that small businesses remain anxious despite these improvements. Traditionally, small businesses are experiencing strong growth once the Optimism Index exceeds 100 – a threshold that it has not surpassed since 2006. Moreover, of those suggesting that now is not a good time for expansion, poor economic conditions and an unsettling political climate are cited. The single most important problem continues to be “poor sales” followed by taxes and government regulations.
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.