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 (PDF), released yesterday (11.14.2017). “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.”


NFIB Optimism Index

Based on Ten Survey Indicators (Seasonally Adjusted 1986=100)
Source: NFIB


The October Index rose to 103.8, up from 103 the previous month. The historically strong performance extends the streak of positive months dating back to last November when it shot up immediately following the election.

The tight labor market got tighter for small business owners last month, continuing a year-long trend.

59% | Percent of owners who said they tried to hire in October
88% | Percent of those trying to hire who reported no or few qualified applicants

Hiring activity was particularly high in Florida and Georgia as construction firms are still trying to meet higher demand caused by the recent hurricane.

“Consumer sentiment surged based on optimism about jobs and incomes, an encouraging development as consumers account for 70 percent of GDP,” said Dunkelberg. “We expect a pickup in auto spending as people in Texas and Florida continue to replace cars that were damaged by the hurricanes. We expect the same increase in home improvement spending, partly because of the hurricanes, but also because of the skyrocketing price of homes.”


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