U.S. small business confidence improves further in February - NFIB
WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - U.S. small-business confidence improved further in February, but many owners continued to experience difficulties finding workers, according to a survey on Tuesday.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said its Small Business Optimism Index increased 0.6 point to 90.9 last month. Still, it was the 14th straight month that the index was below the 49-year average of 98.
Forty-seven percent of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, up 2 points from January, with workers scarce for both skilled and unskilled positions.
This is consistent with recent reports showing that the labor market remains tight. The Labor Department reported last week that there were 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker in January. According to the NFIB, worker shortages were acute in the transportation, services and construction industries. Openings were lowest in the finance sector.
The share of owners reporting that inflation was their single most important problem increased 2 points to 28%, but it was down 9 points from July's peak, which was the highest reading since the fourth quarter of 1979.
About 38% of owners reported raising average selling prices, down 4 points from January. Government data on Tuesday is expected to show consumer prices rising solidly in February, though the year-on-year increase is likely to be the smallest since late 2021.
The share of owners expecting higher inflation-adjusted sales rose 5 points to minus 9%. Owners continued to expect poor business conditions over the next six months.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.