Owners of small companies are the most optimistic they’ve been since September of 2007, according to the latest survey from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The group’s Small Business Optimism Index rose for the third straight month, jumping 1.4 points in May, for a final reading of 96.6 – the best number since before the Great Recession.
The NFIB survey found that May was the eighth month in a row that small-business owners increased employment, the longest period of gains since 2006. Payrolls grew by a seasonally adjusted average of 0.11 workers in May. Plans for job creation rose 2% to a seasonally adjusted net 10%, a figure that is approaching what the NFIB regards as a normal level for a growing economy.
Small-business owners also reported positive news regarding sales. The net percentage of business owners reporting nominal sales in the past quarter improved one point to a net -1%, compared with lows of -34% in 2009. Plus, 15% of owners expect real sales to improve, the best reading since 2007. Of course, as the NFIB points out, sales expectations don’t necessarily translate into stronger demand for inventories or employees.
Throughout 2014, advertising specialty firms have echoed the positive sentiment expressed in the overall U.S. economy. For the first quarter, the Counselor Confidence Index – which measures industry health – reached 114, a record number. Optimism was strong across all groups, including small businesses.