Small-business owner optimism did not “crash “ in September, but it did fall, dropping 0.20 from August’s (corrected) reading of 94.1 and landing at 93.9. The largest contributing factor to the dip was the significant increase in pessimism about future business conditions, although this was somewhat offset by a notable increase in number of small-business owners expecting higher sales. Overall, four Index components improved, four fell and two remained unchanged from August. While it is premature to measure the impact of the government shutdown on the small-business sector, it’s possible that the pending “crisis” impacted economic outlook. October’s reading will reveal the full effect of Washington’s latest crisis on the small-business sector, which has remained cautious throughout the recovery.
“The change in this month’s Index was little more than ‘statistical noise,’ but the drop in outlook for future economic conditions is evidence that many owners are keeping an eye on Washington,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Prospects for politicians and policymakers ‘getting it right’ are low, and job creators are rolling their eyes and shaking their heads thinking, ‘This is certainly not the way to run the largest enterprise in the world.’ Between botched healthcare implementation and one manufactured crisis after another, consumers and small-business owners are likely to remain pessimistic, accepting the notion that growth is going to be sub-par and that their government is likely to continue in dysfunctional mode for months to come.”