The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index for August came in at a reading of 91.8, slightly beating expectations of 90. However, the index remains near a decade low as small businesses try to navigate historic inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions. August is the eighth straight month the index was below the 48-year average of 98.
Twenty-nine percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, a decrease of eight points from July's reading, which was the highest since 1979.
The share of owners raising prices as costs rise decreased three points to a net 53% as owners' outlooks improved. The survey found that small business owners expecting better conditions over the next six months gained 10 points from July to a net negative 42%, at its highest level since February 2022, but still a poor outlook.
However, many still have plans to hire more workers, with 21% planning to create new jobs in the next three months. Nearly half reported job openings in August, unchanged from July and remaining at historic highs.