HOW IS THE OPTIMISM OF SMALL BUSINESS?
The National Federation of Independent Business, an association of roughly 300,000 small businesses in the United States, publishes a monthly “Small Business Economic Trends” report. One component of the report is an “optimism index,” wherein members are surveyed on their outlook, such as “plans to increase employment,” “plans to make capital outlays,” and “expect economy to improve.”
The results are then weighted and compiled into the “Small Business Optimism Index,” where 100 is the most optimistic.
In May, the index (PDF) rose 0.4 points to 89.4 — the 17th consecutive month of staying below the 49-year average of 98, indicating ongoing concerns among small business owners.
Twenty-five percent of owner-respondents reported that inflation was the most important problem in operating their business, followed by labor quality at 24%.
The Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS), a collaboration of all 12 Federal Reserve Banks, provides timely information about small business conditions to policymakers, service providers, and lenders. From September through December 2022, 7,817 U.S. businesses with fewer than 500 employees responded to the SBCS (PDF).
The primary operational challenges faced by those firms included difficulties in recruiting or retaining employees and supply chain disruptions.
The most frequently reported financial challenge was the increasing cost of goods, services, and wages.
The Bank of America’s “2023 Small Business Owner Report” (PDF) includes the results of an online survey from March 16 to April 10, 2023, of a pre-recruited sample of 1,145 owners of U.S. businesses with annual revenue of $100,000 – $4,999,999 and 2 – 99 employees.
According to the survey, top concerns of business owners include consumer inflation, recession, and commodity prices.