There’s a lot to be said about the power of optimism as small businesses ended a memorable year with a 104.9 December reading on the NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index.
The index showed that the average reading during 2017 was 104.8 per month—a record-breaking achievement. NFIB has recorded the optimism index for the last 45 years. The peak of its readings was 108.0 in July 1983 and the lowest was 79.7 in April 1980. November 2017 was close to reaching the top number with a 107.5 reading.
According to the index’s summary, the high numbers are in thanks to the November 2016 election results. Since the new administration took office there has been positive expectations amongst small business owners that has lead to an uptick in the sector’s economic hopes.
Although small businesses feel confident in the future, hiring rates recorded in the index have not reflected that momentum.
While 59 percent of the small business owners surveyed responded that they were hiring or trying to hire, 92 percent of that group reported that there were few to no qualified applicants to choose from. The index also shared that 19 percent of all small business owners surveyed believe their number one hindrance is finding qualified workers.
This hiring slag is felt most in the construction and manufacturing industries, where it is listed as their top issue.
With last year’s optimism—which ended with the tax bill passing in December—stretching into the new year, NFIB is confident that small businesses will begin to see the White House administration’s business-focused plans implemented.
“2017 was the most remarkable year in the 45-year history of the NFIB Optimism Index,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “With a massive tax cut this year, accompanied by significant regulatory relief, we expect very strong growth, millions more jobs, and higher pay for Americans.”