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After months of declining earnings, Indiana small business confidence plunges by 24 points

After months of declining earnings, Indiana small business confidence plunges by 24 points

Indiana small business confidence plunges by 24 points

A sign advertises that a small business is open in Hammond.

After months of sagging revenue, Indiana small business confidence plunged by 24 points in December, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey.

Small business owners across the Hoosier state expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months plummeted to a net negative 16% last month. Meanwhile, the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 5.5 points in December to 95.9, with nine of 10 Index components declining.

It's now beneath the average NFIB Small Business Optimism Index value of 98 since 1973.

“The change in the Optimism Index is absolutely startling. I hope lawmakers are paying attention. Small businesses are the job creators, and we need them now more than ever to pull the economy out of recession,” said Barbara Quandt, NFIB state director in Indiana. “So many have already succumbed to the pandemic, and we need to do everything we can to help those still in business to survive. Our economic future depends on it.”

The survey found the NFIB Uncertainty Index fell 8 points to 82, the percent of small business owners who think it’s a good time to expand dipped 4 points to 8%, and sales expectation over the next few months decreased 14% to a net negative 4% in December.

Hoosier business owners reported earnings trends over the past three months have fallen 7 points with a net negative of 14% reporting increased earnings, according to the NFIB survey. A net negative of 2% experienced higher sales over the past three months, while the percentage of those expecting increased sales volumes in coming months fell 14 points to a net negative of 4%.

Profits over the last few months dropped 7 points to a net negative 14%, which more than half of small business owners attributed to weak sales. 

About 21% of business owners say they increased worker compensation entering into the new year, and only 14% say they intended to in the next few months, according to the NFIB survey. About 52% of small business owners expects to make capital outlays in the next six months, mostly new equipment and vehicles. Only a small fraction looked at expanding facilities or acquiring land for future growth.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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