Small Business A Little Less Optimistic

By John S. McClenahen Although the optimism index of National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has been at or above 100 for 14 months, it slipped just under a point between April and May to 104.5 (1986=100) as, among other factors, the net percentage of small business owners expecting the U.S. economy to improve fell five percentage points to 29%. Inflation fears seem to be the culprit. "This past September, virtually no firms were raising prices; now price hikes are pervasive in all industries," says the NFIB. The business group's researchers, however, are characterizing the slight April-to-May decline in optimism as a "breather" and reasserting that "2004 could be the best economy in two decades."

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