NFIB Small Business Confidence was weaker than expected in October coming in at 96.1 today compared to expectations for an increase to 96.4. As shown in the chart below, the current level of 96.1 was unchanged from last month and right inline with the historical average going back to 2000.
The table to the right summarizes the percentage of small businesses citing various issues as their number one problem. Leading the way this month, as they have for several years now, are Government Red Tape and Taxes, which together account for 43% of all responses. After those two stalwarts at the top, Quality of Labor was cited by 13% of respondents and Poor Sales by 12%. Although Quality of Labor is still the third most important problem facing small businesses, the percentage of respondents citing it dropped by 3 percentage points month-over-month. That was the largest decline among the problems listed and also the largest monthly decline for the category since July 2009. As shown in the chart below, over the last several months there had been a big spike in the percentage of small businesses citing labor quality as their biggest problem, but this month’s decline helped to reverse much of that gain. Even after this month’s decline, though, labor quality issues are still trending higher.