November Business Optimism Index stays below 49-year average

Inflation remains the top business problem for small business owners, with 32% of owners reporting it as their single most important problem in operating their business, five points lower than July’s highest reading since the fourth quarter of 1979, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). The Small Business Optimism Index rose 0.6 points in November to 91.9. November’s reading is the 11th consecutive month below the 49-year average of 98.

“Although Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average, there are still jobs available on Main Street,” said Bill G. Smith, NFIB Wisconsin state director, in a statement. “Today’s Economics Trends Report shows 54% of our small owners are unable to find qualified applicants for their open positions. The report also indicated a slight easing of inflation and increases in compensation slowing. As we look forward to the start of the legislative session next month, our small business owners are hopeful that legislators will pass meaningful reforms in Madison to address the worker shortage and ease the high tax burden for our job creating entrepreneurs.”

Key findings include:

  • Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months improved three points from October to a net negative 43%, a recession reading.
  • Forty-four percent of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, down two points from October, but historically high and not typical of a recession period.
  • The net percent of owners raising average selling prices increased one point to a net 51% seasonally adjusted, a high reading but lower than earlier this year.
  • The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher improved five points from October to a net negative 8%, a weak economic reading.