The latest numbers released from one of the most trusted economic barometers in the nation showed the most positive gains since 2006, but the Oregon state director for the association that publishes the monthly report was thankful Oregon was only a part of the sampling not the big part of it.
As it does every month, the National Federation of Independent Business, America’s Voice of Small Business, released its Index of Small Business Optimism, which measures the pulse of the nation’s largest employer group—Main Street entrepreneurs. The NFIB Research Foundation has collected Small Business Economic Trends data since 1974, originally publishing them quarterly and then monthly, since 1986. Survey respondents are drawn from NFIB’s membership. The report is released on the second Tuesday of each month. For 41 years, NFIB’s Index of Small Business Optimism has been one of the nation’s bellwether economic barometers, used by the Federal Reserve, congressional leaders, presidential administrations, and state legislators and governors. NFIB has 350,000 dues-paying members across the nation, including 7,500 in Oregon.
“The Index showed some strength in November but most of the gains were confined to just two categories,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The December Index shows much broader strength led by a significant increase in sales expectations. This could be a breakout for small business. There’s no question that small-business owners are feeling better about the economy. If they continue to feel that way, 2015 could be a very good year.”
But Jan Meekcoms, NFIB’s Oregon state director, sounded a cautionary note. “Our Optimism Index is a national survey and is not broken down by state, which saves Oregon a little embarrassment. Our unemployment rate has been above the national average for more than a decade; our poverty rate is above the national average; we have the fifth highest amount of food stamp recipients in the nation and our cost-of-housing-to-income ratio is very high. And after looking at the job-threatening, economy-strangling legislative agenda for this session I can guarantee you Oregon’s small businesses are not jumping for joy. Too bad, with gas prices trending lower, this would have been an excellent time to give Oregon small businesses some real traction out of the lingering effects from the Great Recession. Glad to read others in the nation have a more positive outlook, however.”