Thomas M. Sullivan Thomas M. Sullivan
Vice President, Small Business Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Updated

June 10, 2024

Published

December 12, 2023

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The latest jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and recent data from NFIB (below) show that wage inflation may have peaked. This is good news for small business owners who have been looking to hire good employees for several years. Keeping up with employee wages is one of the top reasons for inflationary pressures on Main Street. Any relief bodes well for America’s small business community.

Listen: Tom Sullivan and National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)'s Holly Wade talk about their small business forecasts on a weekly podcast. Listen here.

Watch: Catch Tom Sullivan on ASBN (America's Small Business Network) every month, providing the latest small business news and policy updates. Watch here.

Coming Soon! The Q2 2024 MetLife & U.S. Chamber Small Business Index will be released in June 2024.

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New Small Business Data

National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) May Jobs Report (June 6, 2024)

Summary: Has wage inflation peaked? Small business owners certainly hope so.

  • 42% of small businesses reported job openings they could not fill in May (2 points higher than April and still far above the 49-year average of 23%).
  • 60% of small businesses hired or tried to hire in May (4 points higher than April). Of those hiring, 85% of owners reported few or no qualified job applicants (6 points lower than April).
  • 15% of small business owners are planning to create new jobs in the next 3 months (up 3 points from April and the highest level for 2024).
  • 37% of businesses raised compensation in May (1 point lower than April), and 18% of small business owners plan on raising compensation in the next 3 months (3 points lower than April and the lowest level in 3 years).
  • 37% of small businesses have openings for skilled workers (3 points higher than April), and 14% have openings for unskilled labor (4 points lower than April).
  • Over half the small businesses in construction (54%) have a job opening they can’t fill.

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WSJ / Vistage Small Business CEO Confidence Index (May 29, 2024)

Summary: Confidence is down across the board. The likelihood of continued high interest rates is sinking into Main Street, dampening small business outlook.

  • 19% of small business owners say the economy has improved compared to 12 months ago (down 5 points from April), and 34% say that the economy has gotten worse (2 points worse than April).
  • 21% of small business owners believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months (down 3 points from April), and 27% believe the economy will worsen (1 point worse than April).
  • 48% of small businesses plan on increasing employees in the next 12 months (no change from April)
  • 32% of small businesses expect to increase fixed investments in the next year (down 2 points from April)
  • 58% of small businesses expect increased revenues in the next 12 months (down 2 points from April)
  • 45% believe profitability will improve (down 1 point from April), and 20% of small business owners believe profitability will decrease (no change from April).
  • 49% of small business owners believe inflation will rise at a slower rate over the next 12 months, and 8% believe inflation will rise at a greater rate than this past year. 21% believe inflation will stay the same.

MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index for Q1 (April 2, 2024)

Summary: Negative feelings about the economy lessen and inflation remains front and center.

  • 33% of small business owners are positive about the national economy’s overall health (increased 8 points since last quarter) and 48% are negative about the U.S. economy (5 points less negative).
  • 38% of small business owners are positive about their local economy (8 points higher since last quarter) and 30% have a negative view of their local economy (2 points less negative than last quarter).
  • 52% of small business owners rank inflation as their top concern (9th consecutive quarter at the top).
  • 16% of small business owners added staff in the past year (down 1 point from last quarter and down 3 points from a year ago).
  • 36% of small businesses plan on increasing investment over the next 12 months (6 points lower than last quarter), and 34% of small businesses plan on adding staff (6 points lower than last quarter).
  • The percentage of small businesses anticipating increased revenues remains elevated (67%), albeit 4 points lower than the last 2 quarters’ record highs.
  • 65% of small businesses believe the health of their own businesses is good (1 point increase from last quarter), and 67% are comfortable with their current cash flow (no change from last quarter).

Explore More Small Business Data

The MetLife & U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index is released quarterly to deliver a comprehensive quantitative snapshot of the small business sector and explore small business owners’ perspectives on the latest economic and business trends.

About the authors

Thomas M. Sullivan

Thomas M. Sullivan

Thomas M. Sullivan is vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Working with chambers of commerce and the U.S. Chamber’s nationwide network, Sullivan harnesses the views of small businesses and translates that grassroots power into federal policies that bolster free enterprise and reward entrepreneurship. He runs the U.S.

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