Small biz returning to normal — yet Oregon at risk

chart-nfib-june2015By Jan Meekcoms
Oregon NFIB

According to the chief economist for America’s most important group of employers – small-business owners – a normal level of economic activity may finally be here, but the Oregon state director for the same association said today it isn’t due to anything happening in Oregon.

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 nationally. The report is released on the second Tuesday of every 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.

“It appears that the small-business sector has finally attained a normal level of activity, which will hopefully keep the economy moving forward, even at a sub-par pace,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “That being said, improved profit trends accounted for over half the Index gain, a rather unusual but welcomed development. This was supported by positive sales trends and continued, although rising, fuel prices. The NFIB May survey results confirm that the economy is moving ahead, but at an uninspiring pace. Owners do what is necessary, like hiring workers when needed, to keep up with growth mostly powered by an increasing population. Owners remain generally pessimistic about a pickup in the economy because none of their top issues will be addressed by the current administration.”

Jan Meekcoms, NFIB’s state director in Oregon, had a different take on today’s report. “It may be coming up roses in other states but not in the home of the Rose City. With mandated paid sick leave and a mandated state retirement plan for the private sector and minimum-wage surfacing again in the Legislature, the business attitude outside of the Portland metro area remains rather wilted.”

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