NFIB Releases Industry-Specific Small Business Economic Trends Survey

Date: May 28, 2020

Construction, manufacturing, retail, and services industries examined

Washington, D.C. (May 28, 2020) – The NFIB Research Center released a Small Business Economic Trends Industry report highlighting the construction, manufacturing, retail, and services industries specifically.

 “Small businesses in every industry have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to varying degrees and have been responding as best as they can,” said Holly Wade, NFIB Director of Research & Policy Analysis. “It is clear that each of these industries will need help getting back to pre-crisis numbers.”

Key findings from the survey included:

Construction Industry

  • The Optimism Index for April was 91.6, 0.7 higher than the overall Index, and down 16.6 points since January.
  • Many construction jobs continued work during the pandemic as they were considered essential but reported a decline in earnings of a net negative 12% (net negative 20% overall).
  • Job openings in construction remained higher than the overall population, as 36% of owners reported they were unable to fill positions (24% overall).

Manufacturing Industry

  • The Optimism Index for April was 87.3, an indication that the industry has been hit particularly hard during the pandemic.
  • Supply chain disruptions have made it difficult to produce goods for many of those still in operation and non-essential business closures have negatively impacted many others.
  • The manufacturing industry has experienced steeper decline in earnings, down 24 points, and expected sales, down 67% compared to the overall population.

Retail Industry

  • The Optimism Index for April was 89.5, with stay-at-home orders and non-essential business closures severely disrupting sales in the industry.
  • Retail businesses experienced a greater decline in earnings than the overall population with a net negative 28% reporting higher earnings in the past three months.
  • As states begin to reopen, owners in the retail industry are optimistic that customers will return relatively soon with a net 25% expecting better business conditions over the next six months.
  • The sector was hit the hardest by the immediate loss of sales due to government mandated business restrictions and non-essential business closures.

Services Industry

  • The Optimism Index for April was 92.3, declining to a smaller degree than other industries this quarter.
  • Employment prospects were high in the services sector as a net 5% plan to increase their workforce in the next three months.
  • The services sector has a higher than overall satisfaction with current inventory levels as a net 0% report their inventories are too large compared to a net negative 7% overall.

The full survey is available here.

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