NFIB Small Business Optimism Index

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) collects small business trend data by surveying their membership base on a monthly basis. The series goes back to 1973 (quarterly surveys, monthly starting in 1986) and is released on the second Tuesday of each month.

This release is an important one to follow each month as small businesses are quicker to react to a changing economic climate and a large part of the U.S. economy – at least 2 of every 3 new jobs – are in small businesses.

The latest Small Business Optimism Index for February 2023 came in at 90.9, a slight increase from the January figure, but still well below its 49-year average. Many small business owners are struggling to fill open positions and fewer owners are planning to create new jobs in the next few months. Here’s an excerpt from the latest report:

“The small business labor demand remained strong in February,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Small business owners are working to maintain competitive compensation and are raising compensation in the hopes of filling their open critical positions.”

“A seasonally adjusted net 17% of owners are planning to create new jobs in the next three months, down two points from January and 15 points below its record high reading of 32 reached in August 2021, showing that the trend in planned hiring is on the decline.”