NFIB Small Business Optimism Index Inched Down to 90.8 in Sept.

Washington, DC, October 10, 2023-The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index decreased half of a point in September to 90.8. September’s reading marks the 21st consecutive month below the 49-year average of 98. Twenty-three percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, unchanged from last month and tied with labor quality as the top concern.

“Owners remain pessimistic about future business conditions, which has contributed to the low optimism they have regarding the economy,” said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist. “Sales growth among small businesses have slowed and the bottom line is being squeezed, leaving owners few options beyond raising selling prices for financial relief.”

Key findings include:

* Small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months deteriorated six points from August to a net negative 43% seasonally adjusted, however, 18 percentage points better than last June’s reading of net negative 61% and definitely at recession levels.

* Forty-three percent (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, up three points from August and remaining historically high as owners can’t hire enough workers due to few qualified applicants.

* Seasonally adjusted, a net 23% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down three points from August.

* The net percent of owners raising average selling prices increased two points to a net 29% seasonally adjusted, still a very inflationary level.

* The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher increased one point from August to a net negative 13% (seasonally adjusted), still a very dismal posture.