The National Federation of Independent Business’ optimism index ticked up to 93.1 in October, an increase of 0.3 points. But the index also found that small-business owners are as uncertain as they’ve ever been about what the future holds, and Bill Dunkelberg, the federation’s chief economist, said "the index still remains in solidly pessimistic—and recessionary territory."
Small-business owners, like many in Washington, are particularly concerned about the looming “fiscal cliff,” the slew of spending cuts and tax hikes set to go into effect at the beginning of next year. NFIB surveyed owners before November’s election, but Dunkelberg suggested that the results of that election would do little to assuage concerns that a reelected President Obama and Congress can find a solution to the cliff.
“The election is over and Washington looks much like it did on November 5th,” Dunkelberg said in a statement. “The fear of stalemate among the small-business community is palpable, as the looming fiscal cliff and the threat of higher costs and more taxes are very real possibilities come January.” “Until then,” he added, “not knowing the direction of the economy will always have a dampening impact on spending and hiring.”