Main Street’s economy still mired in the doldrums

The release of NFIB’s latest Small Business Optimism Index, the nation’s bellwether measurement of its Main Street economy, shows mom-and-pop enterprises still getting no full recovery traction — a situation California consistently exacerbates with its regulations, according to the state director of the association.

“This is the 15th consecutive month our Index has been below its 49-year average,” said John Kabateck, California state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, “making it a safe but sad bet to call it the new normal. Although the Index is a national poll, it doesn’t take a leap of imagination to say small businesses in California arguably have it even worse given our Legislature’s continually hitting them with more leave-time mandates, tax increases, and other regulatory gut punches, a sample of which you can find on our Good, Bad and Ugly list of bills.”

The NFIB Research Center has collected Small Business Economic Trends Data with Quarterly surveys since 1973 and monthly surveys since 1986. The sample is drawn from the membership files of the National Federation of Independent Business.

According to NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg, “Small business owners are cynical about future economic conditions. Hiring plans fell to their lowest level since May 2020, but strong consumer spending has kept Main Street alive and supported strong labor demand.”

Key Findings of Today’s Optimism Index

  • Forty-three percent of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill.
  • Twenty-six percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 27 percent reported none.
  • The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher deteriorated six points from February to a net negative 15 percent.

Keep up with the latest on California small-business news at or by following NFIB on Twitter @NFIB_CA or on Facebook @NFIB.CA.