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Small Business Are Concerned

Business Optimism

The small business sentiment are down to the levels we saw during the great recession, lower than during the pandemic.

Main Street is more pessimistic now than during the height of pandemic lockdown, when many businesses saw sales screech to a halt.

That’s according to a closely watched monthly survey by the National Federation of Independent Business, a lobbying group. Its small business optimism index is now at the lowest level in nearly a decade, blowing out the pandemic-era low.

Between the lines: The results reflect current tensions in the economy. 

Concerns about higher prices are nudging sentiment down: The largest share of small business owners since 1980 cited inflation as their single biggest problem in June. A record-low share of respondents expect better business conditions in the coming months.

Even so, there hasn’t been a significant drop-off in labor demand. About 50% of small businesses said they had job openings they couldn’t fill — close to the biggest share on record. 

What to watch: The lobbying group says the survey has fodder for those warning the economy is set to tip into a recession. For one, more firms are reporting sales declines than an uptick in sales — and expectations for higher sales in the future are falling.

Axios Macro By Neil Irwin and Courtenay Brown · Jul 12, 2022