Small-Business Owners Remain Cautious

The National Federation of Independent Business' (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index recorded a 1.9-point increase in February, the organization has reported.

Though an improvement over prior months, the index's total of 90.8 points is equal to 2008 owner sentiment, and remains below 1991-1992 and 2001-2002 recessionary levels.

The majority of small firms in the federation's survey reported lower sales quarter-over-quarter, and 75% of NFIB small businesses expect conditions to be the same or worse six months from now. Additionally, 43% of small business owners reported falling profits compared to prior quarters, while just 13% of small employers enjoyed profit growth. Demand for business credit also remained stagnant in February, according to the NFIB.

NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said, "The economy is clearly bifurcated, with S&P profits at record levels while GDP posts a growth rate of 0.1% (excluding government, growth would have been over 1%, still a lousy reading). The small business half of the economy is clearly languishing based on NFIB surveys of its 350,000 member firms."

The Business Roundtable today reported that chief executives at the largest U.S. companies are much more optimistic about their sales prospects than they were three months ago, though many remain cautious about hiring.

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