While the Index of Small Business Optimism from the National Federation of Independent Business, a small business association, showed an increase of 0.2 points in September, that’s hardly cause for celebration. In a lot of ways, small business owners are still feeling the pinch, and they’re not happy about it. The survey, released on Tuesday, indicated that all is far from well, although there are small signs of improvement in some categories.
Those with unfilled job openings, 11%, are unchanged from August; historically this is a very weak number, according to the survey. Eight percent intend to hire more employees—this too is unchanged—but 16% plan to lay off; this is 3% more than in August.
Seasonally adjusted numbers reporting higher sales are down one point, putting the total at a negative 17%. While this is 17 points higher than the so-called bottom of the recession in June of 2009, it’s still showing that customers aren’t spending. And prices are down; this was the 22nd straight month in which more business owners said they lowered prices instead of raising them. Profit reports are also down, three points lower in September than in the preceding month, and only a net three percent, seasonally adjusted, reported raising their workers’ wages.