(The Center Square) – Business owners continued to believe inflation is their biggest problem, according to a new survey released Tuesday by the National Federal of Independent Business Ohio.
The NFIB’s monthly business optimism index also fell by half a point in September, marking the 21st consecutive month the index fell below the 49-year average of 98. It stands at 90.8.
Labor quality is tied with inflation as business owners’ top concern with 23% listing both categories in the national report.
“Owners remain pessimistic about future business conditions, which has contributed to the low optimism they have regarding the economy,” said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist. “Sales growth among small businesses have slowed and the bottom line is being squeezed, leaving owners few options beyond raising selling prices for financial relief.”
State-specific results are not available, according to NFIB Ohio Director Chris Ferruso, who also said pressures continue to grow for small businesses around the state.
“Inflation means higher prices across the board, and that’s squeezing the budgets of Ohio’s small businesses,” Ferruso said. “It’s also eroding people’s purchasing power, which only adds to the financial pressure on Main Street businesses.”
The survey also showed the percentage of business owners who believe economic conditions will improve over the next six months fell 6 points from August to September to 43%. That number remains significantly higher than the 61% in June who thought conditions would get worse.
Also, 43% said job openings are hard to fill, 3 points higher than in August, and owners continue struggling to find qualified applicants.
Nearly 30% of owners plan to raise prices, which is 2 points higher than August, while 23% plan to increase employee compensation, down 3 points from August.
Finally, 43% reported job openings they cannot fill, which is 3 points higher than in August.