NEW YORK—The latest NFIB Small Business Optimism Index shows a small increase of 0.4 points in May, taking the index to 89.4. However, this is still the 17th consecutive month the index has been below the 49-year average of 98—the last time the index came in at or above average was in December 2021. Of particular concern is that small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months have declined one point from April to a net negative of 50 percent.

NFIB chief economist, Bill Dunkelberg, said, “Overall, small business owners are expressing concerns for future business conditions.” He pointed out that issues like supply chain disruptions and labor shortages will continue to impact many small firms’ ability to meet demand, albeit less severely than last year’s experience.

Key findings of the report include a decrease in job openings hard to fill, down one point from April to 44 percent, although this remains historically high. The net percent of owners raising average selling prices decreased one point to a net 32 percent (seasonally adjusted), still at an inflationary level but showing a downward trend. The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher deteriorated two points from April to a net negative 21 percent.

In terms of jobs, a seasonally adjusted net 19 percent of owners plan to create new jobs in the next three months, while 63 percent reported hiring or trying to hire in May, up three points from April. However, of those hiring or trying to hire, a whopping 89 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.

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