If one conclusion can be drawn from all those small business surveys released every quarter, it’s that grasping a clear, straightforward picture of SME sentiment in the U.S. is no easy task.
Cybercrime is up, as is small business employment, but the verdict is mixed when it comes to small business outlook for the national and local economies, as well as the future performance of those companies themselves (check out the most recent CAN Capital Store Front Business Index, powered by PYMNTS.com, to see some more stats).
The latest report to add to the data deluge was published on Tuesday (May 10) from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), where researchers were able to draw their own conclusion: Small business confidence is up.
The one-point increase in the NFIB’s latest index means small business optimism is now at a two-year high, according to reports, after hitting a two-year low in March. The reading also marked the first increase in optimism this year.
When broken down, however, the metrics reveal a murkier picture. Labor market measures saw an uptick in April, researchers said, as did the portion of small businesses hiring new staff.
The NFIB, however, noted that small business owners commonly cited challenges in being able to find suitable talent to fill open positions.
The majority of job creation plans are across the manufacturing, construction and professional services sectors, researchers found.
Just as many businesses said their sales saw an improvement last month as those that saw a weakening in their sales. Further, while some businesses said their inventory levels rose last month, others said their plans for capital outlays over the next three to six months have not changed from previous months.
The NFIB pointed to the U.S. dollar’s strength, low oil prices, weak global demand and inventory overhang as factors stunting economic growth. But researchers also said the latest index readings aren’t a surprise considering ongoing confidence that the national economy will continue to improve in the second quarter of the year.