Cautious? Optimistic? How About Both?

It has been a while, so we thought we should check in on the Small Business Optimism Index compiled by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The last time we highlighted the index, it showed entrepreneurs’ confidence trending higher overall but slipping somewhat in the fall of 2013. Since that point, entrepreneurs appear to have rallied and are feeling a bit better about their prospects – but that still looks to be more like cautious optimism than a full-fledged celebration.

The latest monthly score (95.7) is the second highest for the year to date (May’s index was 96.6). Those two scores – the highest since October 2007 – represent a slow and steady climb following the Great Recession.

On the plus side, the survey results showed a tenth straight month of increased employment and job creation plans rose to their highest level since September 2007.

But the reaction from NFIB sounded more cautious than optimistic.

“… Capital spending reports continue to remain mediocre, spending plans are weak, and inventories are too large, with more owners reporting sales trends deteriorating than improving,” said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. 

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