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Small Business Optimism Rises in April on Sales Growth Despite Labor Shortage, NFIB Says

05/11/2021 10:53

02:49 PM EDT, 05/11/2021 (MT Newswires) -- Small business optimism increased in April on sales growth but owners were still struggling to find qualified employees, according to the monthly survey by the National Federation of Independent Business released Tuesday.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index climbed to 99.8 from 98.2 in March, according to the NFIB. The index, however, missed the Econoday consensus of 100.8.

"Small business owners are seeing a growth in sales but are stunted by not having enough workers," said Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist at NFIB. "Finding qualified employees remains the biggest challenge for small businesses and is slowing economic growth.

Three percent of owners saw higher nominal sales in the past three months, up nine points from March, while 1% of owners expect higher real sales volumes, an increase of one point.

The top business problem was labor costs for 8% of owners and labor quality for 24%.

"Owners are raising compensation, offering bonuses and benefits to attract the right employees," said Dunkelberg.

Thirty-one percent reported increasing compensation and 20% plans to increase compensation in the next three months, according to the NFIB.

A net negative 15% of owners anticipate improved business conditions in the next six months, a decline of seven points.