The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 1 point in February to 92.9. None of the 10 Index components posted a gain, six posted small declines and four were unchanged.
“A ho-hum outcome this month confirms that the small business sector is not performing with any strength,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg.
Reported job creation reversed in February, with an average employment change per firm falling to a decline in employment of -0.12 workers per firm. Eleven percent (down 1 point) reported increasing employment an average of 1.9 workers per firm while 13 percent (up 2 points) reported reducing employment an average of 4.8 workers per firm. Forty-nine percent reported hiring or trying to hire (down 3 points), but 42 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.
The percent of owners citing the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their single most important business problem fell 3 points to 12 percent, still number three on the list of problems behind taxes and regulations and red tape, and historically high.
Fifty-eight percent of owners reported capital outlays, down 3 points. Overall, capital spending weakened again in February.