Small Business Optimism Ticked Down 2 Points to 89.9 in January

Washington, DC, February 13, 2024-The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index decreased two points in January to 89.9, marking the 25th consecutive month below the 50-year average of 98. The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher declined 12 points from December to a net negative 16% (seasonally adjusted), a very negative shift in expectations.

“Small business owners continue to make appropriate business adjustments in response to the ongoing economic challenges they’re facing,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “In January, optimism among small business owners dropped as inflation remains a key obstacle on Main Street.”

Key findings include:

  • The frequency of reports of positive profit trends was a net negative 30%, five points worse than in December and a very poor reading.
  • Twenty percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, down three points from last month and one point behind labor quality as the top problem.
  • Small business owners’ plans to fill open positions softened, with a seasonally adjusted net 14% planning to create new jobs in the next three months, down two points from December and the lowest level since May 2020.
  • Thirty-nine percent (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, down one point from December and the lowest reading since January 2021.