UNEASY OUTLOOK: Small business owners are more pessimistic about how the economy will fare in the coming months, according to a survey of National Federation of Independent Business members. The advocacy group said its index of owner optimism fell 0.2 points last month to 93.9 from August's revised 94.1. The big factor behind the drop was an 8 percentage point decline in the number of owners who expect the economy to improve.
SOME POSITIVE VIEWS: The number of owners expecting their sales to improve in the coming months rose 3 percentage points. Those who said this is a good time to expand their companies rose 2 points.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS: The survey was at odds with one conducted recently by PNC Financial Services, which showed small and medium-sized business owners pessimistic about their sales rather than the economy. One possible reason for the disparity is that the NFIB questioned 773 of its members while PNC surveyed a broader business population. But many surveys in recent months have been at odds with one another, although overall, they have pointed to owners being unsure. And sluggish hiring levels are evidence that they're cautious.
The NFIB noted that its survey was taken before the government shutdown began Oct. 1 and therefore did not reflect how owners are feeling about its impact on their companies and the economy.