Small business owners’ optimism touched a 35-year high in July, with businesses setting records in terms of job creation and hiring, while they cited the availability of qualified workers as their biggest challenge. In another signal of just how good this economy is, the small business owners also noted that they were able to increase prices.
In July 2018, the NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index marked its second highest level in the survey’s 45-year history, at 107.9 – just shy of the July 1983 record-high of 108.
Records were set for job creation plans. A seasonally-adjusted net 23 percent of businesses are planning to create new jobs, while 37 percent of business owners said they had job openings that they could not fill in July.
“Small business owners are leading this economy and expressing optimism rivaling the highest levels in history,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “Expansion continues to be a priority for small businesses who show no signs of slowing as they anticipate more sales and better business conditions.”
A net 35 percent of owners expect better business conditions, while they said the availability of qualified workers was their No. 1 problem. Owners also reported that they were increasing the compensation they offered workers.
Fifty-nine percent of firms were hiring or trying to hire, while 52 percent (88 percent of those hiring or trying to hire) reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.
Twenty-three percent of owners said their biggest business problem was finding qualified workers.
“Despite challenges in finding qualified workers to fill a record number of job openings, they’re taking advantage of this economy and pursuing growth,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg.
Profits continued to perform, and more firms raised prices in July, a positive signal of demand.