Confidence Among U.S. Small-Business Owners Increased Slightly in August -- NFIB

Small-business owners in the U.S. were slightly more optimistic in August compared with the previous month but the short-term outlook darkened, according to a survey compiled by the National Federation of Independent Business released Tuesday.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index increased to 100.1 in August from 99.7 in July, above the 99.0 level expected by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

"As the economy moves into the fourth quarter, small business owners are losing confidence in the strength of future business conditions," NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said.

The NFIB is a monthly snapshot of small businesses in the U.S., which account for nearly half of private sector jobs. Economists look to the report for a read on domestic demand and to extrapolate hiring and wage trends in the broader economy.

Five of the 10 components that form the index improved in August, four decreased and one was unchanged.

The highest increases were registered in the proportion of owners who plan to increase employment, inventories and capital outlays.

However, these rises were partly offset by the fall in the percentage of owners who expect better business conditions over the next six months. The indicator, which declined for second straight month, is at the lowest level since January 2013, the report said.

Small businesses continued to encounter difficulties to find workers and fill open positions. Around 50% of owners reported job openings that couldn't be filled, an increase of one point from July and a 48-year record high.

"The biggest problems facing small employers right now is finding enough labor to meet their demand and for many, managing supply chain disruptions," Mr. Dunkelberg said.

On supply-chain disruptions, over 37% of owners said that shortages have had a significant impact on their business, 29% reported a moderate impact, and 21% reported a mild impact. Only 13% said their businesses weren't impacted by supply strains.

Write to Xavier Fontdegloria at xavier.fontdegloria@wsj.com -0-


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  09-14-21 0614ET
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