The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 0.6 points in February to 105.3, according to the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Report.
Three of the 10 components increased, six declined and one was unchanged. Despite the decrease, nearly half of owners expect better business conditions in the coming months.
"It is clear from our data that optimism skyrocketed after the election because small business owners anticipated a change in policy," said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. "The sustainability of this surge and whether it will lead to actual economic growth depends on Washington’s ability to deliver on the agenda that small business voted for in November. If the health care and tax policy discussions continue without action, optimism will fade."
The job openings component reached its highest level since December 2000, but more owners reported difficulty finding qualified workers to fill open positions. Dunkelberg said that the scarcity of qualified workers is pressuring owners to raise compensation to retain and attract good employees. Twenty-six percent of small-business owners reported raising compensation, one of the highest readings since February 2007.