Small-Business Optimism Marks 35-Year High in July

August 14, 2018 Updated: August 14, 2018

The Small Business Optimism Index rose to its second-highest level in the survey’s history in July, marking a 35-year-high as small-business owners ride a continued pattern of positive economic news.

July’s reading of 107.9 is just a tick below the survey’s July 1983 peak of 108.

The monthly survey, conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), cited records in both job creation and hiring, with 37 percent of all owners reporting job openings they could not fill in July. Meanwhile, a seasonally adjusted net 23 percent of businesses said they are planning to create new jobs.

“Small business owners are leading this economy and expressing optimism rivaling the highest levels in history,” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said in a statement. “Expansion continues to be a priority for small businesses who show no signs of slowing as they anticipate more sales and better business conditions.”

A net 35 percent of owners expect better business conditions, adding that the availability of qualified workers was their number one problem, the survey said. It also found that 59 percent of businesses were hiring or trying to hire, with 52 percent reporting few of or no qualified applications for the positions they sought to fill.

“Despite challenges in finding qualified workers to fill a record number of job openings, they’re taking advantage of this economy and pursuing growth,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said.

For labor markets, the news was just as positive. Small-business owners in July added the largest number of workers per firm since 2006 in the same month. It added a net of 0.37 workers per firm, which was almost double June’s rate.

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