NFIB Small Business Survey: Index Regains Momentum in July

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for July came in at 105.2, up 1.6 from the previous month. The index is at the 97th percentile in this series. Today's number came in above the Investing.com forecast of 103.6.

Here is an excerpt from the opening summary of the news release.

The Index of Small Business Optimism rose 1.6 points to 105.2, preserving the surge in optimism that started the day after the election. Seven of the 10 Index components posted a gain, two declined, and one was unchanged. Since the recession, the Index peaked at 105.9 in January, just 0.7 points above the July reading. Main Street was buoyed by stronger customer demand despite the dysfunction in Washington, D.C. The economy (GDP) grew about 2 percent in the first half of the year, nothing special, but the second quarter was much stronger than the first, and consumer spending was a major contributor to growth. The stock market continues to post record high readings, although a bit inconsistent with moderate growth in output from the nation’s business sector.

The first chart below highlights the 1986 baseline level of 100 and includes some labels to help us visualize that dramatic change in small-business sentiment that accompanied the Great Financial Crisis. Compare, for example, the relative resilience of the index during the 2000-2003 collapse of the Tech Bubble with the far weaker readings following the Great Recession that ended in June 2009.

NFIB Optimism Index

Here is a closer look at the indicator since the turn of the century. We are now just below the post-recession interim high.

NFIB Optimism Index Since 2000

The average monthly change in this indicator is 1.3 points. To smooth out the noise of volatility, here is a 3-month moving average of the Optimism Index along with the monthly values, shown as dots.

NFIB Optimism Index Moving Average