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Each month, the National Federation of Independent Business releases survey results about the outlook of small businesses in the U.S. For the most recent month, the NFIB’s survey results show a slight increase in overall economic optimism among those businesses responding to the survey.
Founded in 1943 and with offices in the capital cities of the 50 states, the NFIB focuses much of its lobbying efforts in support of small business. Membership of the NFIB is reported to be about 350,000 businesses across the country.
Each month, 10 indicators are surveyed by the NFIB. In aggregate, the latest survey results edged up 0.7 points and resulted in a total score of 95.7. Six of the 10 indicators showed some positive improvement compared to the prior month’s survey results. Three of the 10 indicators showed negative month-over-month results with one indicator essentially static compared to last month.
On the labor side of the equation, slightly more small-business owners added new employees compared to those small businesses that decreased head count. About 75 percent of the businesses responding to the survey reported no change in their hiring over the past month. Unfulfilled job openings were reported by 24 percent of the survey respondents, a relatively strong indicator for future employment.
Another positive indicator was the continued improvement in job creation among these small businesses. The most recent survey result for this topic was the strongest since September 2007. On a seasonally adjusted basis, job creation remained modestly positive.
Outlook for future price inflation is another important factor in the survey. Price increases are planned by 23 percent of the survey respondents in the next several months. This represents a 1 percent increase over the prior month. On the deflation side, only 3 percent of these companies forecast a decrease in their product prices in the next few months.
Results for the most recent NFIB survey came from the responses of 1,645 small businesses. Survey participants are all members of the NFIB. Economic indicators from these small businesses provide useful insight into the health and near-term outlook for the U.S. economy.
Kirby Brown is the CEO of Beneficial Financial Group, which is based in Salt Lake City.