Sacramento, CA | Comment On Latest Small Business Economic Trends Report

Swirl of economic forces have whipped up a thick fog of uncertainty, especially in California

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 14, 2021—The nation’s leading economic barometer of its Main Street economy, released today, shows no breakthrough that would point to a quick or sustainable economic recovery at the moment, only a nagging uncertainty about everything.

“Reading the economic tea leaves when they just floated was tricky enough in the best of times, now that they’re aswirl in a pandemic-heated brew, anyone’s guess is as good as any economist’s,” said John Kabateck, California state director for NFIB, which conducts the monthly Small Business Economic Trends report issued today. “Still, I do see some calming signs.”

Kabateck pointed to the recent adjournment of the California State Legislature’s 2021 session that saw two proposed amendments to Assembly Bills 455 and 1102 fail. Both would have added onerous vaccine mandates. There were also some pro-active, pro-small-business bills to emerge from the session. A full list with brief descriptions of the 35 bills impacting small business that NFIB fought for or against can be read here.

SBET Takeaways

For Kabateck, the things that stood out in today’s SBET were 48-year highs in both unfilled job openings and increased compensation, countered by drops in the percentage of small-business owners expecting the economy to improve and ‘now a good time to expand’ categories.

“So much will be determined by what Congress does,” said Kabateck. “Right now, it is not sending the right message by threatening to scale back the Small Business Deduction on federal taxes, repeal the stepped-up-basis on estate taxes, and pass the Pro Act which puts independent contracting in the crosshairs for elimination. Not good, and if any of it succeeds, states will have a hard time countering the effect.” More about NFIB’s Small Business Survival campaign here.

From NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg

“As the economy moves into the fourth quarter, small business owners are losing confidence in the strength of future business conditions. The biggest problems facing small employers right now is finding enough labor to meet their demand and for many, managing supply chain disruptions.”

More comment is available on Page 3 of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends report.

About the Small Business Economic Trends (SBET) report

The NFIB Research Center has collected Small Business Economic Trends data with quarterly surveys since the 4th quarter of 1973 and monthly surveys since 1986. Survey respondents are drawn from a random sample of NFIB’s membership. The report is released on the second Tuesday of each month. Today’s survey was conducted in August 2021. 

The SBET’s primary value is anticipating short-run fluctuations in economic activity. An additional value of the SBET is its measurement of small business activities and concerns over time. The benefit of a longitudinal data set offers an invaluable perspective on how policies and business cycles impact small businesses over time.  The SBET is one of the few archival data sets on small business, particularly when research questions address business operations rather than opinions. Today, it’s the largest, longest-running data set on small business economic conditions available.


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