Commentary Directory

NFIB Small Business Survey: September 2023

Jacob Hess
October 10, 2023

US NFIB Small Business Optimism Survey

10/10/2023 (September 2023)

90.8 (-0.5 pts)


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Economic Expectations Index 43 (-6 pts)
Expected Credit Conditions Index -10 (-4 pts)
Current Job Openings Index 43 (+3 pts)
Actual Price Changes Index 29 (+2 pts)

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index has dropped again, staying below its long-term average for the 21st straight month. While there were some bright spots, like increases in Job Openings and Hiring Plans, the overall picture is grim. Persistent labor supply issues are keeping wages high and employment changes negative. Inflation remains a top concern, with indicators showing that price pressures are far from easing.


Despite the hang up in inflation, the effects of the Federal Reserve's rate hikes are becoming increasingly evident. The average interest rate paid by small businesses rose to 9.8% in September, the highest since before the Great Financial Crisis, up from 9.0% in August. The Expected Credit Conditions index dropped to -10, its lowest in a decade. Given the combination of lower consumer demand and tighter financial conditions, it seems almost inevitable that small businesses will face some sort of recession as the economic environment becomes increasingly challenging.