Business optimism rises, concerns remain real



(The Center Square) – Ohio businesses were more optimistic in December but still well below normal, citing inflation as their biggest concern, according to a new survey from the National Federation of Independent Business.

The most recent study showed the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.3 points in December to 91.9 but is still well below the 50-year average of 98. It’s the 24th consecutive month the index failed to meet the long-term benchmark.

“Small business owners remain very pessimistic about economic prospects this year,” NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said. “Inflation and labor quality have consistently been a tough complication for small business owners, and they are not convinced that it will get better in 2024.”

In Ohio, businesses continue battle price increases and labor issues, leading to ongoing concerns as the new year begins.

“Rising prices and a lack of qualified workers are only compounding Main Street’s sense of pessimism,” NFIB Ohio Director Chris Ferruso said. “That makes it difficult for them to plan and discourages them from expanding. Hopefully, the General Assembly will address these issues when lawmakers return to Columbus this month.”

The national survey showed the number of small business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months grew by 6 points from November and the percentage of owners who think sales will increase by 4 points to its highest reading in two years.

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