The engine of US job’s growth, small businesses, took a step backwards in March according to the latest NFIB survey. This month’s report was a bit mixed with a decline in economic expectations, stagnant sales and improving labor conditions. The NFIB elaborates on the results:
The Index of Small Business Optimism (PDF) gave up 2.6 points in March, falling to 91.9. The decline in the percent of owners expecting higher real sales and better business conditions in six months account for 76% of the decline in the Index. The index is consistent with recession-level readings. The decline comes after several consecutive months of a slow but steady growth. Hiring and future plans to hire built on February’s gain and remain the bright spot in an otherwise discouraging report.
“It looks like everyone became more pessimistic in March,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Or, perhaps, this is a ‘new normal’ and we are unlikely to see the surges usually experienced at the start of a recovery. Times are different; government, with new taxes and more restrictions, is a larger drag on the small-business community. Uncertainty continues to cloud the future while the government is persistently tone-deaf to the needs of those who create jobs and wealth. Today’s recession-level reading is, all in all, a real disappointment.”