Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday Evening Miscellany

[Note to self: "Miscellany" would sound better in conjunction with Monday.]

On the second Tuesday of every month, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) puts out its Small Business Economic Trends Report (SBET). The NFIB tells me that they've got about 350,000 member small businesses nationwide. The report is always interesting, and often contains some suprises.

Here are some nuggest mined out of this month's report:

Among the questions asked of small business owners, one deals with the "single biggest problem." The choices are:

Interest Rates
Poor Sales
Competition w/ Big Business
Labor Quality
Labor Costs

Interestingly, despite President Tax-and-Spend Obama's presence in the White House, fear of higher taxes is not a major current concern for small business owners:

What IS a huge concern for small business owners is the outlook for sales:

The fear of a poor sales outlook is near a record high. This is testimony, in my opinion, to our new era of consumer frugality and the fear it's instilled in businesses both large and small. I would also note that I found it quite interesting that even after Circuit City declared bankruptcy and went belly-up, Best Buy still reported a sub-par quarter last week (with the stock going down the day of the report). What's the message there, my friends?
Also in the NFIB's SBET is a question about hiring intentions. That appears to be a good news/bad news scenario: The good news is that the reading has bounced off an all-time low. The bad news is that it's still pretty much in record low territory:

While on the subject of jobs, let's put some perspective on the current nonfarm payroll (NFP) situation in the context of the previous nine recessions. We've now lost seven million jobs since the December 2007 peak in NFP, more than twice what we lost in the 2001 recession, which led to a "jobless recovery."
To those who would quibble and say different eras should be looked at in percentage terms, well, let's have at it:

I dearly hope that NDD is right that we'll soon begin adding jobs (though I am personally not optimistic). There is so much pain and slack in the labor market that we need to get some job creation asap.