NFIB Small Business Survey: Index Inches Up in October

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for October came in at 103.8, up 0.8 from the previous month. The index is at the 93rd percentile in this series. Today's number came in below the Investing.com forecast of 104.2.

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

More small business owners last month said they expect higher sales and think that now is a good time to expand, according to the October NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism, released today.

“Owners became much more positive about the economic environment last month, which suggests a longer-run view,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “In the nearer term, they are more optimistic about real sales growth and improved business conditions through the end of the year.”

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