U.S. Small-Business Optimism Climbs to Second Highest on Record

(Bloomberg) -- A gauge of optimism among U.S. small-business owners increased to the second highest on record as companies benefited from tax cuts and robust consumer demand, a National Federation of Independent Business survey showed Tuesday.

Highlights of Small-Business Optimism (July)

  • Sentiment index rose 0.7 point to 107.9 (est. 106.8), the highest since the record 108 reading in 1983
  • Businesses reporting unfilled job openings rose to a record
  • Net 29% of owners expect sales to increase, up 3 points from prior month, while those saying it’s a good time to expand rose to 32%

Key Takeaways

Small-business sentiment is near a record as the economic expansion enters a 10th year, indicating that consumers and businesses will help power growth in the third quarter. Deregulation and tax cuts have helped boost attitudes, though tight labor markets and scarce workers are prompting companies to cite a lack of skilled employees as a top concern.

Other Details

  • Reports of compensation increases remained strong
  • Record 23% plan to create new jobs in the next three months
  • 23% cited finding qualified workers as the single most important business problem, near the highest level in 45 years

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