Economic Snapshot: Small business optimism remains at historical high

The NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism dipped 0.2 points in April to 104.5. April was the sixth straight month of historically high optimism, which the NFIB described as “a hot streak not seen since 1983.”

Five of the index components posted a gain, three components declined and two were unchanged. Nearly all of the slight decline was attributable to an 8-point drop in expected business conditions.

“Expected business conditions is the most volatile component of the Index,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Small business owners want Congress and the White House to address the high cost of health care, which has been their top concern for more than 30 years. When that effort failed in March, expectations for better business conditions collapsed.”

JOLTS

The number of job openings was little changed at 5.7 million and the job openings rate was 3.8 percent on the last business day of March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Job openings increased in professional and business services (+126,000), other services (+55,000), and state and local government education (+27,000). Job openings decreased in educational services (-43,000) and mining and logging (-8,000).

The number of hires was essentially unchanged at 5.3 million in March and the hires rate was 3.6 percent. Hires increased in health care and social assistance (+49,000) but decreased in mining and logging )-8,000).

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There were 5.1 million total separations in March and the separations rate was 3.5 percent, little changed from the previous month. Total separations increased in health care and social assistance (+67,000) and educational services (+29,000), but decreased in state and local government education (-39,000).

Among separations, the number of quits was little changed at 3.1 million and the quits rate was 2.1 percent. Quits increased in health care and social assistance (+52,000) but decreased in information (-12,000). In the regions, the number of quits increased in the West.

Employment situation

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 211,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.4 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, financial activities, and mining.

The number of unemployed persons was little changed at 7.1 million in April. Over the year, the unemployment rate has declined by 0.6 percentage points and the number of unemployed persons has fallen by 854,000.

The number of long-term unemployed was essentially unchanged at 1.6 million in April and accounted for 22.6 percent of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 433,000.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons declined by 281,000 to 5.3 million in April. Over the past 12 months, the number of person employed part time for economic reasons decreased by 698,000.

In April, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 181,000 from a year earlier. Among the marginally attached, there were 455,000 discouraged workers in April, down by 113,000 from the previous year.

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