Usually optimistic U.S. small business owners were a little less optimistic in March, says the Washington, D.C.-based National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Its Small Business Economic Trends Survey index fell to 102.5 in March, 1.2 points lower than its February level.
In March, small business owners were less inclined to characterize now as a good time to expand (down five points from February) and fewer expected the U.S. economy to improve during the next six months (down four points). Most dramatically, plans to increase employment by the small businesses surveyed fell by six points. William Dunkelberg, NFIB's chief economist, admits to being puzzled by the drop in job-creation plans, although he notes it does seem to be regionally concentrated, especially in states along the Pacific Ocean.