Markets got a little bit of good news on the small business front this morning as the NFIB Small Business Optimism index saw a slight uptick in the month of December. While economists were expecting the headline index to come in at a level of 95.0 from November’s reading of 94.8, the actual reading came in at 95.2. While the uptick is welcome, the current level is still below its long-term historical average of 96.1 from 2000 and more than five points off the peak reading of 100.4 a year ago. Although the NFIB index only saw four monthly declines in 2015, they were all sizable declines and more than offset the small monthly gains.
The table to the right breaks down the issues that small businesses are currently citing as their number one problem. In December’s report, Taxes overtook Government Red Tape as the number one problem and was cited by 22% of all respondents. Behind those two issues, Quality of Labor remains a big problem with 15% of all businesses having trouble filling open positions with qualified workers. However, even though they may be having trouble finding qualified workers, it has yet to show up in wages as only 5% of businesses cited Cost of Labor as their biggest problem.