NFIB’s Chief Economist Discusses 2024 Outlook and the Small Business Optimism Index

Date: January 30, 2024

Bill Dunkelberg discusses the outlook of small business and how the election will determine if optimism rebounds

Nearly one month into 2024, NFIB’s Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg shared the small business outlook for the year ahead and how the election results in November will determine if optimism changes for the better. The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index has been anything but optimistic, remaining below its 50-year average of 98 for the last 24 months, hovering around 91. 

Small business owners remain very pessimistic about economic prospects,” said Dunkelberg. “The election in November is likely to have a major impact on optimism, spending, and growth once again.” 

“NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index ended 2023 where it started, at 91, leading into a 2024 economy in which economic growth is expected to deteriorate,” Dunkelberg added. “Only 10% of the respondents expect better business conditions by mid-year, 44% expect worse. Only 21% expect their real sales volumes to improve, twice as many expect declines. Six percent think it is a good time to expand their business, while 61% believe it is not.” 

With the lack of optimism on whether consumers will flush the economy with cash, the November election will be key in whether small business optimism will adjust one way or the other. 

Read Dunkelberg’s full op-ed, “A Happy New Year For Small Business?” for more insights on economic changes that could come this year.

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