The NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism rose slightly in January. The slight overall uptick in optimism might have been higher, but was blunted by small business owners' skepticism about the future and continued hesitancy to spend and hire. Weak sales is still the most frequently cited top business problem.
Small business owners are waiting. They are waiting for signs of real and sustained growth. They are waiting for public policy that addresses their real needs -- lower taxes to spur consumers and fund business expansion and cutting of regulations that burden them with high costs. They are waiting to see a true commitment to free enterprise and property rights.
Overall it seems that they have hunkered down for the long haul. Price-cutting seems to have run its course as a survival strategy. Inventory-adjustments to match lower consumer spending appear to be reaching a conclusion. And other surveys show that their cost-cutting efforts have stabilized profitability.
They seem to be ready for a long, hard economic winter.
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