October 11 Optimism among the nationís small business owners improved in September, ending a six-month slide, according to the latest monthly survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Whether this is the start of an upward trend or a temporary uptick remains to be seen.
The September NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 0.8 points to 88.9, but there was little obvious optimism evident in the survey. There was an increase in the number of business owners expecting an improvement in real sales, but the net figure remained negative, for example. More owners expect the economy to improve than in September, but this net total remains negative, too.
Despite a gain of four points last month, weak sales was the top business problem in September, as it has been for the past three years.
Additionally, the employment picture remained weak. Fourteen percent of respondents reported unfilled job openings, down one point from August. Over the next three months, 11% plan to increase employment, the same number as in August, and 12% plan to reduce their workforce, also unchanged from the previous month.
After climbing through much of the fall and winter, the Index now stands at virtually the same level it did one year ago.