WASHINGTON, Dec 13 (Reuters) – U.S. small business confidence rose again in November, according to a survey on Tuesday, as inflation and labor shortages remained owners’ top concerns.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NIB) said its small business optimism index rose 0.6 points to 91.9 last month, as the share of owners who expect better business conditions in the next six months improved.
However, this was the 11th straight month the index was below the 49-year average of 98. The share of owners who expect better business conditions in the next six months increased three points to -43%. As of June, it was -61%.
Thirty-two percent of homeowners said inflation was their only major concern, down from October and down 5 points from July’s reading, which was the highest since the fourth quarter of 1979. , from October one point to.
Despite persistent worries about inflation, there are signs that inflationary pressures are slowly easing as the Federal Reserve tightens interest rates, slows demand and improves frayed supply chains.
Government data on Tuesday showed consumer prices were expected to have risen modestly in November, with annual inflation likely to be the slowest in a year, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
The Fed is expected to begin scaling back the pace of rate hikes at the end of its two-day policy meeting. But with the labor market tightening and wages rising, the U.S. central bank is likely to see rate hikes for some time to come.
44 percent of owners reported hard-to-fill vacancies, down 2 points from October. The problem of filling vacancies was particularly acute in the transport, wholesale and construction industries, NBB said.
“This is one of the most pressing supply chain problems and it’s not getting better,” said William Dunkelberg, chief economist at NIB. “The economy seems to be declining, but it is not reflected in the demand for labor.” (Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Leslie Adler)