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Small Business Optimism Index Falls as Owners Reign In Expectations

  • National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) monthly survey finds small business owners tempering expectations as effects of COVID-19 continue
  • About half of survey respondents report capital outlays, and owners continue to express interest in hiring
  • Business owners less likely to expect conditions to improve in the next six months

Optimism among small business owners declined in July as the continuance of the COVID-19 pandemic led to ongoing business restrictions and less consumer traffic, according to NFIB’s latest Small Business Optimism Index. The index fell 1.8 points to stand at 98.8 in July, though this figure was close to historic averages.

A seasonally adjusted net negative of 28 percent of respondents reported higher nominal sales in the past three months. A net share of 25 percent said they expect better business conditions in the next six months, down 14 points from June.

About half of small business owners said they had made capital outlays in the past six months, with one in three investing in new equipment. Eleven percent said they considered it a good time to expand their business, down two points from June.

A net share of 18 percent said they were looking to hire new workers, up two points from June. NFIB noted how the pandemic has not substantially changed the skill set of workers, and 21 percent of business owners said finding qualified labor was their top business problem.

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