While fewer respondents to this month’s NFIB small business survey reported that they observed higher prices, inflation continues to be a front and center concern. The percentage of respondents reporting inflation as their biggest problem has risen further to another record high of 37%. That completely erased June’s drop down to 34%.
While broad inflation is currently the most pressing problem, other inflation-related measures also rose in July. The percentage of firms reporting cost of labor as their single most important problem rose to 9%, although that is still below the record high reading of 13% at the end of last year.
While we often combine that reading with the percentage of responses reporting quality of labor as the biggest issue as a gauge of labor market health, the latter problem dropped 2 percentage points to net out the rise in cost of labor. On a combined basis, these two concerns are now tied with March at 30% for the lowest level since January 2021 (28%).
One other combined reading that we often check in on is the percentage of respondents reporting government requirements or taxes as their biggest issues. Over the past few decades, Republican administrations have usually coincided with lower readings whereas Democrat administrations would see a higher reading. With inflation concerns surging this year, a historically low share of businesses are concerned about government action. The combined reading fell to another record low of 16% in July with the entirety of that drop on account of a 3 percentage point decline in government requirements and red tape. Click here to learn more about Bespoke’s premium stock market research service.