In March 2019, the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index increased by 0.1 point to 101.8 while Uncertainty dropped by 79. This indicates that small businesses continue to make significant contributions to the American economy after being negatively affected by the government shutdown.
Capital spending remained the same with several Index components improving including real sales, earnings, outlook for expansion and labor market indicators. However, with inventory levels being too large and many small businesses are planning reductions.
The survey found that 60% of business owners reported to have plans of capital spending with 27% planning to make capital investments over the next few months. Planned investments include transportation, retail, manufacturing and wholesale trades. About 19% of owners expect higher real sales volumes in 2019.
The small business sector added a record number of new employees in January and February 2019. According to the survey, 60% of businesses are hiring or trying to hire but 54% of them are having problems finding qualified applicants.
In terms of borrowing, 33% reported having all their credit needs met and 51% were not interested in obtaining new loans.
NFIB president and CEO Juanita Duggan said that after the government shutdown was resolved, business uncertainty declined and small businesses continued to enjoy strong sales, expand their operations and create jobs.