Small business optimism continues its winter hibernation with the latest Index dropping 2.7 points to 91.4, a reading that historically has been associated with recessions and periods of sub-par growth. The one highlight in the January survey, a surge in hiring plans, was crushed in February by the continued onslaught of a wintry recovery now in its 5th year.
“Uncertainty is a major cause of the Index’s dip. Lacking any progress in Washington and facing continued unknowns with the healthcare law, the EPA, the minimum wage, tax reform and more, it is no surprise that the Small Business Optimism Index fell, reversing a few months of modest gains,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “As long as uncertainty remains high, owners will remain cautious when it comes to increasing inventory. Business owners aren’t going to bet their money on a future they cannot see clearly.”
The February report on net new jobs was better than expected, but inadequate to the task of reducing the unemployment rate which rose a tenth of a point. As disturbing as the decline in job creation plans was, the plunge in expectations for improvements in real sales in the coming months and for business conditions 6 months from now, show that we shouldn’t expect blue skies soon.”