Small business optimism climbs as profit levels jump to all-time high, NFIB says

Small business earnings rose to the highest levels in at least 45 years last month, according to the results of a survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), a lobbying organization that represents small business owners nationwide and has historically given money to Republican causes and candidates.

The NFIB said that small business earnings were the highest in the history of its survey, which dates back to 1973, and also noted that small business optimism increased in April to a level in the top 95th percentile of its all-time average. It noted that April was the 17th consecutive month of “historically high readings.”

“Never in the history of this survey have we seen profit trends so high”, said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “The optimism small businesses owners have about the economy is turning into new job creation, increased wages and benefits, and investment.”

NFIB data shows small business owners’ earnings are at the highest level in the history of its survey.

The survey also found that labor quality remained the top issue facing small business owners, with 89% of those surveyed that were hiring or trying to hire reporting few or no qualified applicants.

The release mentions recently passed tax cut legislation multiple times as a factor encouraging optimism and spending by small business owners.

“Consumer spending, the new tax law, and lower regulatory barriers are all supporting the surge in optimism across all small business industry sectors,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said.

The survey detailing April’s surging business confidence and earnings tapped 1,554 NFIB members through a questionnaire that ran through April 29.

Political Interests

NFIB labels itself as a “nonprofit, nonpartisan organization” but has given significantly to Republican candidates and causes backed by Republicans, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The group reports that of the $4.5 million that NFIB donated to candidates between 2000 and 2014, only $191,561 supported Democrats while more than $4 million went to Republicans. Excluding donations to ballot measure committees, 93 percent of NFIB’s contributions benefitted Republican candidates and party committees since 2000. NFIB also invested in nonpartisan candidates, most of whom were running for state supreme court seats with 87% of the $351,083 NFIB has given to political parties going to GOP committees, according to the group.

“Indeed, NFIB has been a major supporter of Republican candidates and political parties, while also investing $482,420 in ballot measure committees that, among other things, opposed minimum wage hikes, advocated for reducing the tax burden, and sought to restrict government’s eminent domain power,” National Institute on Money in State Politics wrote in 2016 as NFIB opposed President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Liberal media watchdog group Media Matters declared in March 2016 that NFIB was “a front group that has received millions of dollars from the Koch brothers network and other large corporate interests, and its opposition to Garland is part of a campaign against environmental, labor and healthcare policies that most small businesses support.”


Dion Rabouin is a markets reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter: @DionRabouin.

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