Dec 4, 2019

Small business owners report record-high confidence

Small business owners are reporting record-high levels of confidence about their businesses and finances, MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index indicates.

By the numbers: The Q4 index scored confidence at 71.3, a 0.6-point increase from the previous quarter. More than 71% of the 1,000 small business owners in the survey said they have a "strong outlook" and feel optimistic about their companies and the broader business environment. Both measures are the highest the index has seen since it began in 2017, according to a Chamber of Commerce press release.

  • 59% of small business owners reported a positive outlook on their local economies, a 3% jump from the previous quarter.
  • 57% said they believe the U.S. economy is healthy, a 4-point increase since the first quarter of 2019.

What they're saying: "Although we hear media reports of many larger businesses retrenching, in most industries small businesses continue to thrive, and many indicate plans to expand, whether by increasing headcount, increasing investment in the business, or both," said Jessica Moser, senior vice president of small and specialty business at MetLife, according to the press release.

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Small business optimism survey shows a record jump

Data: NFIB: Chart: Axios Visuals

Small business optimism posted the largest month-over-month gain since May 2018, rising to 104.7 in November.

The big picture: "Overall, this clearly is a positive report," Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist Ian Shepherdson wrote in a note to clients.

Go deeperArrowDec 11, 2019

CEO optimism drops for 7th straight quarter

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A closely-watched index of CEO hiring, sales and spending plans declined again, according to a survey of some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. by Business Roundtable, their trade group.

Why it matters: The survey has shown declining optimism for almost two years. As we get closer to the 2020 election, the record-high CEO optimism levels that peaked during Trump’s presidency have now vanished — largely thanks to trade war uncertainty.

Go deeperArrowDec 11, 2019

Big retailers are pushing tariff costs on to smaller merchants

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big retailers like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target, and TJX Brands are refusing to accept tariff price increases from their brand suppliers, telling the companies they will have to either eat the tariff costs or find another buyer.

Why it matters: This forces the costs of President Trump's trade war with China down to smaller businesses that can hardly afford them, while the big companies keep the impact of tariffs at bay.

Go deeperArrowNov 22, 2019