Local Comment on Today’s National Economic News

Date: May 10, 2016

HELENA, Mont., May 10, 2016—Small business optimism is anemic and will probably be that way for the rest of the year, according to the latest read from one of the most highly regarded economic barometers in the nation.
As it does every month, the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s Voice of Small Business, released its Index of Small Business Optimism this morning, which measures the pulse of the nation’s largest employer group—Main Street entrepreneurs. The NFIB Research Foundation has collected Small Business Economic Trends data since 1974, originally publishing them quarterly and then monthly, since 1986. Survey respondents are drawn from NFIB’s membership nationally. The report is released on the second Tuesday of every month. For 41 years, NFIB’s Index of Small Business Optimism has been one of the nation’s bellwether economic barometers, used by the Federal Reserve, congressional leaders, presidential administrations, and state legislators and governors. NFIB has 350,000 dues-paying members across the nation, including more than 5,500 in Montana. A one-page history of the SBET can be read here.
“Despite a gain in NFIB’s optimism reading, small-business owners remain extremely pessimistic about the economy, and rightfully so,” said NFIB Chief Economist William C. Dunkelberg. “It was a relief to see the Index turn up, ending a long string of declines.  However, it’s still down from December 2014 when the Index hit an expansion high of 100. There is no leadership in Washington, no articulations of a path to a better future, and no evidence that policy-making is focused on promoting economic growth or job creation. The prospects that strong, unifying leadership will emerge after the election also appears to be poor.”  Dunkelberg noted that the University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index posted another decline, offering no hope for small business owners that spending will increase.  “Overall, there is no exuberance to be found in the economy and small business owners will just continue to plod along.”
Added Riley Johnson, NFIB’s Montana state director, “With the looming session of the 2017 Montana Legislature in six months, small-business owners in Montana are overly cautious of spending and hiring because of major issues facing the state, such as infrastructure funding, local government taxing, declining federal funding, and even the possibility of increased gasoline taxes to meet the needs of Montana in the near future. Montana’s small-business owners are in a wait-and-see environment.”
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For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.
National Federation of Independent Business/Montana
491 South Park Ave.
Helena, MT 59601
406-443-3797
Twitter: @NFIB_MT

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