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Small Business Owners' Optimism Nears Reagan-Era Record, 'Exuberant About Economy'

By Craig Bannister | December 12, 2017 | 4:51pm EST
Small business owners eye stronger store sales. (Screenshot)

A national survey of small business optimism rose to its second highest level ever in November, nearing its 1983 record.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Optimism Index rose to 107.5 in November, up 3.7 points from October – and just short of the record of 108.0 set in July of 1983 during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

The November reading hit the second-highest level in the index’s 44-year history, with 80 percent of the gain coming from optimism about future business conditions, sales and an expansion-friendly business environment.

“Small business owners are exuberant about the economy, and they are ready to lead the U.S. economy in a period of robust growth,” NFIB President Juanita Duggan said, reacting to the results.

NFIB credited the surge in small business owner optimism to “the change in management team” – from President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump – particularly with regard to tax policy:

“This is a dramatically different picture than owners presented during the 2009-16 weak recovery under President Obama.  The change in the management team dramatically improved expectations.

“There is still much uncertainty about health care and taxes, but it appears that owners believe that whatever Congress finally comes up with will be an improvement and so they remain positive.”

“There has been important success on regulatory relief and in restructuring the judiciary, and they are now close to enacting tax reform as the year winds down.”

NFIB predicted that, in light of the November index, economic growth could hit four percent in the final quarter of 2017:

“The NFIB indicators clearly anticipate further upticks in economic growth, perhaps pushing up toward 4 percent GDP growth for the fourth quarter.”

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