According to the National Federation of Independent Business February Small Business Optimism Index, small business optimism has fallen.
After moving up substantially in January to 89.3, the Optimism Index dropped back to a low 88.0, where it was in December.
"[The number] has been below 90 for 17 consecutive months," the NFIB reports, a trend which "is unprecedented in survey history."
The net percent of small business owners who believe that business conditions will improve in the next six months dropped down to -9 percent, the lowest point since March 2009 –and and a full 56 points lower than the percentage recorded at worst point of the 1982 recession, the report explains.
As we wrote in November, sales continue to be the primary concern for beleaguered small businesses. 34 percent cited weak sales as their number one problem, a new survey high for that measure. Concern about taxes came in second at 23 percent, while government requirements and red tape were third at 12 percent.
Employment news is also bleak: 19 percent reduced their staff by an average of 3.2 employees, and 8 percent plan to reduce employment over the next 3 months.
Improving from a net -14 percent in January to a net -12 percent in March, acquiring a loan appears to have gotten slightly easier, although it is still difficult.
However, the NFIB says, "[capital] spending and inventory investment plans remained historically low as did plans to create new jobs... Profits trends are terrible, undermining owner’s ability to finance any aspect of growth."
"The private sector is struggling to get back on its feet, but receiving little encouragement from Washington," the report continues.
You can read the entire report here.
What is your primary concern this quarter?