Survey: Small business optimism fell again in September

Small-business owners continued to lose confidence in the economic recovery last month and said they don’t plan to expand or hire additional workers anytime soon.

That’s according to the latest NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, a widely watched survey that economists consider a good indicator of the direction of the nation’s economy. This month is the survey’s 40th anniversary.

State-specific data isn’t available, but NFIB/Missouri State Director Brad Jones said conditions here are about the same as they are in other states.

The survey was taken before the federal government shutdown, but “I think it’s clear from the survey that small-business owners are keeping an eye on Washington,” he said.

NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said, “Prospects for politicians and policymakers ‘getting it right’ are low, and job creators are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads, thinking, ‘This is certainly not the way to run the largest enterprise in the world.’”

Key findings in this month’s report:

• Only 8 percent say this is a good time to expand, up 2 points from August but still well below the level it was before the recession.

• The net percent of owners expecting better business conditions in six months was a net negative 10 percent, 8 points worse than August’s reading.

• Job creation was down in September. Owners reduced employment by an average of 0.1 workers per firm in September after August’s slight gain (0.08 workers added on average).

Today’s report is based on the responses of 773 randomly sampled small businesses in NFIB’s membership, surveyed throughout the month of September.

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