US small business sentiment falls for first time in 4 months -NFIB

Inflation hits consumer spending in Pennsylvania

By Amina Niasse

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. small business sentiment declined last month for the first time since April on continued concern over inflation and difficulty finding quality labor, a monthly survey showed on Tuesday.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said its Small Business Optimism Index fell to 91.3 in August from an eight-month high of 91.9 in July. It marked the 20th-consecutive month in which sentiment remained below the index’s 49-year average of 98.

Difficulty hiring skilled workers in a tight labor market and inflation topped the list of business owners’ most pressing issues.

“With small business owners’ views about future sales growth and business conditions discouraging, owners want to hire and make money now from strong consumer spending,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Inflation and the worker shortage continue to be the biggest obstacles for Main Street.”

Construction, service, and manufacturing businesses reported the greatest difficulty filling open positions.

That said, 40% of owners last month reported they could not fill open positions, the lowest in two-and-a-half years and an indication the tight labor market may be softening.

Another measure tracking expectations for better business conditions over the next six months fell 7 points from July.

(Reporting by Amina Niasse; Editing by Andrea Ricci)