"I’ve Never Seen Anything Like 2017": Average Monthly Optimism Sets All-Time Record In 2017

Love or hate him, President Trump certainly can make America's small business feel good about their future.

For confirmation look no further than the latest report from the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, according to which "small business confidence blasted off the day after the 2016 election and remained in the stratosphere for all of 2017," making last year an all-time record setter for the NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism.

Having hit an all time high in November, the December NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 2.6 points to 104.9 in December, down from the record 107.5 last month. The drop suggested that the burst of confidence in November was more of a rebound after two months of lower readings in September and October related to uncertainties after three brutal hurricanes in late August and early September. Discounting the November index, the December reading is in line with the overall strong tone for 2017 as a whole, and reflected solid conditions.


Two of the December components posted gains, five declined, and three remained unchanged. Moving the Index moderately lower were declines in Expected Better Business Conditions (11-point decline) which tends to fluctuate sharply and Inventory Plans (8-point decline). Small business owners were bedeviled by a labor shortage in 2017 that grew more intense as optimism rose. The NFIB Jobs Report last week showed that problem reaching record levels.

Offsetting the dip in Expected Better Business Conditions was a dramatic,14-point improvement in Actual Sales for December. In November, a net negative five percent of all firms reported sales increases. A net nine percent reported higher sales in December, indicating a very strong holiday season for small business.


But the real story was not the modest slowdown in December optimism, but the monthly data in 2017: "2017 was the most remarkable year in the 45-year history of the NFIB Optimism Index,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. “With a massive tax cut this year, accompanied by significant regulatory relief, we expect very strong growth, millions more jobs, and higher pay for Americans.”

The Optimism Index for last month came in at 104.9, slightly lower than the near-record November report but still a historically exceptional performance. That makes 2017 the strongest year ever in the history of the survey. The average monthly Index for 2017 was 104.8. The previous record was 104.6, set in 2004.

"We’ve been doing this research for nearly half a century, longer than anyone else, and I’ve never seen anything like 2017,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The 2016 election was like a dam breaking. Small business owners were waiting for better policies from Washington, suddenly they got them, and the engine of the economy roared back to life."

"There’s a critical shortage of qualified workers and it’s becoming a real cost driver for small businesses,” said Dunkelberg. “They are raising compensation for workers in order to attract and keep good employees, but that’s a positive indicator for the overall economy."

Driving record optimism in 2017 was the expectation of better economic policies from Washington. Suspending the regulatory assault on business and now a massive tax cut answered two of the three top concerns for small business owners, according to NFIB research.

“The lesson of 2017 is that better policies make for better economic results,” said Duggan. “The evidence is overwhelming that small business owners pay close attention to Washington, and that federal policies affect their decisions on whether to hire, whether to invest, whether to grow inventory, and whether to seek capital.”



YUNOSELL Tue, 01/09/2018 - 08:50 Permalink

There are no free markets anymore, just one big illusion all the elite keep trying to convince the world.....


Things are going to slide -- slide in all directions 

Won't be nothing you can measure anymore 

I've seen the future brother, it is murder

Honest Sam Tue, 01/09/2018 - 09:40 Permalink

Well, all except for mass media talking heads, and quite a few in other media, including george stepinalottashit, Manana Joe, and CNNnnnnnnnn.

You'd think their world sunk into the mire of humiliating defeat, liberal democrat depravity, popery, and global denunciation.....o, wait.......

163,000,000 of us and quite a few tens of millions of hillary rodman voters (reluctantly, of course) are aware that the move to 30,000 3,300 and 8,000 are making retirement funds look pretty damned nice.



bshirley1968 Tue, 01/09/2018 - 09:44 Permalink

What regulatory reprieve? 

All the optimism revolves around the tax scheme, shell game.  They think the government is going to let them keep more of their money.....or give them some on the backside after taking more.....whatever.  Never gonna happen. 

This is one big debt party and nothing more.  Like all parties, this one will come to an end.  Amazing how trillions more in debt somehow equals a "robust, healthy economy".  People used to measure financial health by a lack of debt.  Times, they have changed.

rejected Tue, 01/09/2018 - 09:57 Permalink

""There’s a critical shortage of qualified workers and it’s becoming a real cost driver for small businesses"

Has anyone noticed they never tell you where the shortage is? Like what small business?

I mean, How qualified does one have to be to stock shelves? Be a policeman? A fireman? A cook? A waiter? A Amazon worker? A day laborer?

And when they do it's because they want qualified workers at below subsistence wages.

At the higher professional levels this meme is meant to keep the cheap H1B labor visas coming.

Yes, Americans doing what Americans do best. Screwing other Americans!

Honest Sam rejected Tue, 01/09/2018 - 11:30 Permalink

Whoa, Nellie!

Small business isn't the same as a salaried or hourly worker.

Hillary Rodman solved this problem decades ago when she replied that it's not her fault or responsibility if she saddled small businesses with ruinous health care insurance premiums to pay for her universal health insurance programs, to be mandated for all workers. 

Americans are not 'screwing' each other when they charge what other americans pay for the services and products they offer each other. 

I don't see a whole lot of americans bemoaning the cost of nearly everything they need to survive, and prosper somewhat. 

If you don't want to pay me $25.00 an hour to mow your lawn, then mow it yourself. If you don't want to pay Sherri $25.00 to give you a haircut, go to the Barber college, and get it done for free. 

The mothballed economic concept of Supply and Demand needs to be trotted out to the masses, so that they understand what freedom is. And it they don't like it, move to Denmark. You can even murder someone there, and only serve 5-15 years. Those communist countries are nothing if not soft on criminal penalties, while offering you all those cheap prices..o, wait....a Hershey Bar costs $4.00 but your health care is 'free'. But your taxes are over half your income.

I guess it's better if government steals more than half your productive efforts than the neighbor's kid you pay who charges you $10.00 to shovel your walk, a ten minute job. 

The horror of free markets.


In reply to by rejected

silverer Tue, 01/09/2018 - 10:10 Permalink

When optimism is generated by available credit, based on productivity that doesn't exist, centered in a country that's 20 trillion dollars in debt, and issued by banks with an 8% reserve at best, there should be a little voice in your head telling you something is about to go seriously wrong.

california chrome Tue, 01/09/2018 - 10:36 Permalink

"I’ve Never Seen Anything Like 2017"

How about the first week of 2018?...the market is levitating.

(Wow you brought back the edit feature...swear on my life

I'll never abuse it again.)


moonmac Tue, 01/09/2018 - 10:38 Permalink

When orders get so scarce that the people who have them can easily drive down pricing and lead times while they also spread the wealth out to keep everyone from starving you know we might be past due for a recession.

I choked on my donut when a top executive from a US steel mill spoke of shortages after the election.

venturen Tue, 01/09/2018 - 11:28 Permalink

I heard the FED bought optimism shorts. 


I guess when you can take on unlimited debt with no thought to EVER pay it back...it makes you happy...well till you get REPO'D!

ExcapedPOI Wed, 01/10/2018 - 18:03 Permalink

You mean, that a little glimmer of hope among the still stupid when Trump was elected and the propaganda that things would magically get better (though no significant changes have been made) made some businesses go further out on the debt limb.  Only soon to be crushed by reality!  BECAUSE NOTHING HAS CHANGED!