Small Business Uncertainty Highest Since November 2020 as Optimism Remains Low

Date: June 18, 2024

Uncertainty Index rose nine points to 85 while Optimism increased for the second month.

What it means: With small business owners still pessimistic about future business conditions, the Optimism Index remains below the historical 98 average. However, the Uncertainty Index jumped last month signaling that more small businesses are lacking confidence in predicting future business conditions.  

Our take: “An exceptionally high number of small businesses are still struggling to fill open positions,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Although the number of owners planning to increase compensation fell, small firms continue in their efforts to attract and retain workers.” 


As the Optimism Index continues below the 50-year average of 98 for the 29th consecutive month, the small business owners’ uncertainty index reached 90.5, its highest point since November 2020. Owners are struggling to hire and retain workers while also having an elevated level of uncertainty of the future. Most of this is because inflation persists as a top concern. 

Small businesses are still finding it difficult to deal with inflation pressures. To combat this, owners are encouraged to reach out to their elected officials.  

The full Small Business Economic Trends report and the NFIB Jobs Report are available for further analysis 

TAKE ACTIONEmail your legislators now and share how inflation pressures are making it difficult to increase compensation for your workers. 

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