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Survey: Small business owners remain worried about economy

While fears of inflation and difficulty finding employees are still a major concern, a new survey finds that owners do see signs of improvement.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 5:00 a.m. July 22, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
  • Florida
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The country’s small business owners are cautiously optimistic about the state of the economy.

According to a June survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, the Small Business Optimism Index ticked up 1.6 points to 91. While a cause for, well, optimism, the index remains a long way from 98, the average for the past 49 years. (June was the 18th consecutive month it failed to reach that level.)

What the survey found is that businesspeople are still concerned about larger economic forces and that’s affecting how they operate. The survey found that inflation and labor quality remain the single most pressing issues for 24% of owners.

The organization’s chief economist, Bill Dunkelberg, says in a statement that owners “remain very pessimistic about future business conditions and sales prospects.”

“Inflation and labor shortages continue to be great challenges for small businesses,” he says. “Owners are still raising selling prices at an inflationary level to try to pass on higher inventory, labor, and energy costs.”

But the sentiments aren’t all negative and business owners do see there are signs of improving economic conditions.

Among the findings:

  • The number of business owners who believe conditions will improve over the next six months jumped 10 points from May.
  • The number of business owners who reported  job opening were hard to fill was down two points from May (though, at 42%, it remains historically high).
  • The net percent of business owners who expect sales to be higher increased seven points from May to a net negative 14%.

“The latest numbers show small business owners nationwide are a little more upbeat, but inflation and the difficulties in finding qualified job candidates are still making it hard for many small businesses to plan ahead,” NFIB state executive director Bill Herrle says in the statement.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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