Small Business Optimism Index Drops in March

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Optimism Index fell 8.1 points in March, to a reading of 96.4; the largest monthly decline in the survey’s history. It also brings to an end 39 straight months of increased business optimism. Nine of the 10 index components declined, evidence that the economic disruptions are escalating on Main Street, as small businesses struggle to keep their stores open. In prepared remarks, NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg said, “Small business are living through the coronavirus pandemic right now and it’s hard to say what the severity of the disruption will be, but we do know they’re feeling the urgency.” The NFIB Uncertainty Index rose 12 points in March to a reading of 92, the highest level of uncertainty since March 2017. Reports of better conditions (optimism) in the next 6-months declined 17 points, which the lowest level since November 2012. Nearly half of all small business employers surveyed said they can survive no more than 2-months current business conditions.

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