Small Business Optimism Index Rose 0.3 in September to 92.1

Washington, DC, October 11, 2022-NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index rose 0.3 points in September to 92.1, making the ninth consecutive month below the 48-year average of 98. 

Thirty percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business.

“Inflation and worker shortages continue to be the hardest challenges facing small business owners,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Even with these challenges, owners are still seeking opportunities to grow their business in the current period.”

Key findings include:

* Small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months improved ten points from July to a net negative 42%, the highest level since February 2022, but a dismal outlook.

* The net percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased three points to a net 53% (seasonally adjusted), still a very inflationary outcome.

* The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher increased ten points from July to a net negative 19%, but owners still want to hire.

* The Uncertainty Index increased seven points to 74.

As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, owners’ plans to fill open positions remain elevated, with a seasonally adjusted net 23% of planning to create new jobs in the next three months. Of those owners trying to hire, 89% reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.

Fifty-six percent of owners reported capital outlays in the last six months, up four points. Of those making expenditures, 40% reported spending on new equipment, 22% acquired vehicles, and 16% improved or expanded facilities. Nine percent spent money for new fixtures and furniture and 6% acquired new buildings or land for expansion. Twenty-four percent plan capital outlays in the next few months, down one point.

A net negative 5% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, up three points from August. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes improved by nine points to a net negative 10%.