NFIB Small Business Survey: "Small Business Optimism Index Soars, Continuing Historic Run"

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for May came in at 107.8, up 3.0 from the previous month. The index is at the 100th percentile in this series. Today's number came in above the Investing.com forecast of 105.2.

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

The Small Business Optimism Index increased in May to the second highest level in the NFIB survey’s 45-year history. The index rose to 107.8, a three-point gain, with small businesses reporting high numbers in several key areas including compensation, profits, and sales trends.

“Main Street optimism is on a stratospheric trajectory thanks to recent tax cuts and regulatory changes. For years, owners have continuously signaled that when taxes and regulations ease, earnings and employee compensation increase,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan.

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 just below the post-recession high.

NFIB Optimism Index Since 2000

The average monthly change in this indicator is 3.0 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