Kansas small businesses continue to face uncertainty as COVID-19 pandemic recovery persists

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 12:39 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas small businesses continue to face uncertainty as COVID-19 continues to affect the labor shortage, worker pay and supply chain interruptions.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses says its Small Business Optimism Index rose in August to 100.1 points, which is up 0.4 points from July. It said five of the 10 index metrics improved and four declined while one remained unchanged. The NFIB Uncertainty Index decreased seven points to 69, which is the lowest level seen since January 2016.

“There’s a number in this latest survey that should have all Kansans concerned,” said Dan Murray, NFIB State Director in Kansas. “In the last month, another 6 percent of our small business owners are saying they are uncertain about the future. That’s not a good sign. In order to recover from this pandemic, our small business owners need to lead the way. They are the backbone of our economy and if they are not optimistic about the future, this is a big cause for concern.”

According to the NFIB, owners that expect better business conditions over the next six months decreased by eight points, totaling a net -28%. This metric has declined 16 points since June to its lowest point since January 2013.

The NFIB also said 50% of owners reported job openings that could not be filled, which has increased one point from July. It also said this reading is a record high for the second consecutive month in nearly 50 years.

However, the Federation also reported that a net 41% of businesses reported raising worker pay, which is up three points from July and a 48-year record high. It said 10% of owners noted that labor costs are their top issue and 28% said labor quality was their issue, both are record highs.

According to the report, owners reported positive profit trends declined by two points to a net 115%. Among those with lower profit trends, 34% blamed the rise in the cost of materials, 27% blamed weaker sales, 9% blamed labor costs, 8% cited lower prices and 3% cited higher taxes or regulatory costs. For those that reported higher profits, 60% credited sales volumes, 20% cited usual seasonal change and 10% cited higher prices as the reason for the increase.

The NFIB said its Research Foundation has collected Small Business Economic Trends data each quarter since the fourth quarter of 1973 and monthly surveys since 1986. It said survey respondents are drawn from its membership. The report is released on the second Tuesday of each month. This survey was conducted in Aug. 2021.

To read the full Small Business Optimism Index, click HERE.

To read the full monthly jobs report, click HERE.

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