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The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index hit 108.8 in August, the highest in the survey’s 45-year history and beating the July 1983 highwater mark of 108. Tax and regulatory changes have fed the optimism.

NFIB Aug 2018

August Survey Highlights

  • Job creation plans and unfilled job openings both set new records.
  • The percentage of small business owners saying it is a good time to expand tied the May 2018 all-time high.
  • Inventory investment plans were the strongest since 2005 and capital spending plans the highest since 2007.

“At the beginning of this historic run, Index gains were dominated by expectations: good time to expand, expected real sales, inventory satisfaction, expected credit conditions, and expected business conditions,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Now the Index is dominated by real business activity that makes GDP grow: job creation plans, job openings, strong capital spending plans, record inventory investment plans, and earnings. Small business is clearly helping to drive that four percent growth in the domestic economy.”

LABOR MARKETS

After posting significant gains in employment in July, job creation slowed among small firms in August, perhaps because there were fewer workers available to hire because job openings hit a 45 year record high.

  • Fifteen percent (down 2 points) reported increasing employment an average of 3.2 workers per firm and 10 percent (down 1 point) reported reducing employment an average of 2.4 workers per firm (seasonally adjusted).
  • Sixty-two percent reported hiring or trying to hire (up 3 points), but 55 percent (up 3 points and 89 percent of those hiring or trying to hire) reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.
  • A record 25 percent of owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their Single Most Important Business Problem (up 2 points).
  • Thirty-eight percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period, a new survey record high. Seventeen percent reported using temporary workers, up 4 points.
  • A seasonally-adjusted net 26 percent plan to create new jobs, up 3 points from July and a survey record.
  • Thirty-five percent have openings for skilled workers (up 2 points), and 16 percent have openings for unskilled labor, up 1 point.

CREDIT MARKETS

  • Three percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied, unchanged and just 1 point above the record low. Thirty-three percent reported all credit needs met (up 1 point) and 51 percent said they were not interested in a loan, up 1 point.
  • Two percent reported that financing was their top business problem (unchanged). Five percent (up 1 point) reported loans “harder to get,” historically very low. In short, credit availability and cost are not issues and haven’t been for many years, even with the Federal Reserve raising interest rates.
  • The percent of owners reporting paying a higher rate on their most recent loan was unchanged at 17 percent, the highest reading since February 2007.
  • Thirty-two percent of all owners reported borrowing on a regular basis (unchanged). The average rate paid on short maturity loans fell to 6.1 percent (down 20 basis points).

 Source: August 2018 Report: Small Business Optimism Index

From The TradersCommunity News Desk

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