Dow Jones – Optimism among US small-business owners inched up in October, according to a report Tuesday, as more owners said they expect better sales in the months ahead and believe it is a good time to expand their operations.
The National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Optimism Index rose to 103.8 in October, up 0.8 points from September.
Confidence among small businesses, in an upswing since last November’s elections, hit its highest point in more than a decade earlier this year, according to the conservative-leaning small-business lobby.
Owners “are more optimistic about real sales growth and improved business conditions through the end of the year,” NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said in prepared remarks.
The labour market continued to get tighter for small business owners last month, continuing a year-long trend, the report said. Some 59% of owners said they tried to hire workers in October, with 88% reporting no or few qualified applicants.
However, hiring activity was high in Florida and Georgia, as construction firms tried to meet higher demand caused by recent hurricane activity, according to the NFIB’s survey.
NFIB said in the report it expects a pick-up in auto spending and home-improvement spending as people in Texas and Florida replace cars that were damaged in recent hurricanes.
The NFIB survey is a monthly snapshot of US small businesses, which account for most private-sector jobs and about half of the country’s economic output. Economists use the NFIB’s survey to gauge the direction of wages, hiring and demand.
Of the 10 segments the NFIB survey analyses, five of them were down in October compared with the prior month, while four of the categories improved and one remained unchanged, the NFIB said.