After hitting multi-decade highs in February, optimism on the part of small businesses pulled back a fair amount in March. The month-over-month decline of 2.9 points was the largest drop since 2015.
That's the bad news. The good news is that, even with this month’s decline, sentiment on the part of small businesses remains positive and is well above the historical average reading of 96.6.
Small business owners do report having an increasingly difficult time filling jobs. “Owners complain at record rates of labor quality issues,” the National Federation of Independent Businesses said, “with 89 percent of those hiring or trying to hire reporting few or no qualified applicants for their open positions.” Meanwhile, the number of respondents saying they are increasing worker compensation rose to its highest level since 2000.