Small Business Optimism Index Inched Up to 100.1 in August

Washington, DC, September 14, 2021-The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index increased in August to 100.1, up 0.4 points from July. Five of the ten Index components improved, four declined, and one was unchanged. The NFIB Uncertainty Index decreased seven points to 69, the lowest level since January 2016.

“As the economy moves into the fourth quarter, small business owners are losing confidence in the strength of future business conditions,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The biggest problems facing small employers right now is finding enough labor to meet their demand and for many, managing supply chain disruptions.”

Key findings include:

* Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased by eight points to a net negative 28%. This indicator has declined 16 points over the past two months to its lowest reading since January 2013.

* Fifty percent of owners reported job openings that could not be filled, an increase of one point from July and a 48-year record high for the second consecutive month.

As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 50% of owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, up one point from July and a record high reading for the second consecutive month. The number of unfilled job openings remains far above the 48-year historical average of 22%.


Fifty-five percent of owners reported capital outlays in the last six months, unchanged from July and historically weak. Of those businesses making expenditures, 41% reported spending on new equipment, 22% acquired vehicles, and 16% improved or expanded facilities. Six percent of owners acquired new buildings or land for expansion and 12% spent money for new fixtures and furniture.

Thirty percent of owners plan capital outlays in the next few months, up four points from July but still historically fairly weak.