Small Business Confidence Remains Steady

Small business confidence in the U.S. was flat last month, according to a survey released this week by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Though small-business owners expected higher sales and more of them planned to make capital outlays, hiring remained stagnant, the NFIB reported. The group’s Small Business Optimism Index remained steady at 96.1 in October.

In the ad specialty market specifically, the Counselor Confidence Index currently resides near record highs, as distributors maintained continued optimism in the third quarter of 2015.

The NFIB index, though, remains below the 42-year average of 98, with the survey giving no indication of renewed growth in the small-business sector, said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB chief. “The labor market components might have held at historically strong levels, but this time owners reported no net growth in employment, which is a significant drop from reports in the previous four months,” he added.

Four of the 10 components tracked in the index rose by a single point in October: small-business owners’ plans to make capital outlays, current inventory, expected credit conditions and thoughts on whether the atmosphere was ripe for expansion. Two components dropped by three points, including owners’ plans to increase inventories. Expected employment growth dropped by one point in the October index. Small-business owners, though, believed in October that real sales would grow for the remainder of the year, with that component growing three points, compared with the September report.

The NFIB’s October report also showed inflation pressures being muted, with only a net 2% raising selling prices, up one point from September. “This is bad news for the Federal Reserve, which is trying to stoke the flames of inflation in order to prevent deflation from setting in,” the NFIB wrote in its report. “For the rest of us, low inflation is good news.”