NFIB Unveils New Uncertainty Index

Date: October 13, 2016 Last Edit: October 17, 2016

Measure Shows Small Business Owners More Uncertain About Future Than Ever

According to the NFIB’s new monthly Uncertainty Index, US small business owners have expressed uncertainty over future business conditions that has risen to “a 42 year record high level in the past two months.” The index found that “many owners could not say, for example, whether business conditions would improve, or deteriorate, or stay the same.” The NFIB cautioned in its Uncertainty Index report that “high levels of uncertainty have a chilling effect on inventory investment, capital spending and hiring.” Bloomberg News reports that with “less than a month before the presidential election, anxiety is running high among owners of American small businesses.” The Uncertainty Index “eased to 86 last month from 87 in August, which was the highest in 42 years of record-keeping.” However, a full 25% of US small business owners surveyed “said a lack of clarity about economic conditions and government legislation was a ‘critical’ problem for their business operations.” USA Today reports that the Uncertainty Index shows small business owners are concerned due to “a turbulent, unpredictable presidential campaign and an economy that can’t accelerate out of slow-growth mode.” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg cautioned that high levels of uncertainty are harmful to small business growth, because “having no clear direction on which to base a decision generally puts the decision on hold.” Meanwhile, NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan said, “Our data has been showing for months that growing numbers of small business owners are anxious about the future and that the cause of their anxiety is the inability to predict what government will do next to make their lives harder.” She said that while small businesses need “predictability,” in the current environment, “it’s just not there.”

What This Means For Small Businesses

Small business growth is likely to remain stagnant until political and economic uncertainty is alleviated.

Additional Reading

The Central Penn Business Journal (PA) is among sources covering small business uncertainty, as demonstrated by recent surveys including the NFIB’s Small Business Economic Trends report.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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