Local Comment on Today’s Survey Results on Small-Business Economy

Date: April 13, 2021

The California Legislature could do a lot to help improved numbers by doing no harm

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 13, 2021—The nation’s bellwether measurement of the small-business economy released today showed seven of its 10 index components improving, but finding qualified employees still remaining a huge problem for small-business owners.

For nearly five decades the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has been taking the pulse of its small-business-owning members and releasing the results through its Small Business Economic Trends report (aka the Optimism Index) monthly.

“So much of the policy driving optimism or pessimism emanates from Washington, D.C., but states have a huge impact, too,” said John Kabateck, California state director for NFIB. “States across the nation are finding the whole art to reviving their small-business economy is not larding more taxes and regulations on the backs of their Main Street entrepreneurs, and some states taking a further step by giving small-business owners some liability protection against unfair, needlessly costly, and solvency threatening COVID-19 lawsuits.”

Something else in today’s Optimism Index needs pointing out to Sacramento, according to Kabateck. “The difficulty small-business owners are having in hiring is in part due to making unemployment benefits more lucrative than returning to work. Exacerbating that problem is California’s mad drive to be the Leave Paradise of the nation. We already have about 17 paid and unpaid leave laws on the books, and the Legislature wants to add three more (AB 95, AB 995, AB 1041). If they pass, we will have created a paperwork headache for small-business owners impossible to comply with.”

NFIB California’s latest Main Street Minute lists 25 bills both beneficial and harmful for small businesses the association would like to see passed or killed.

From Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB’s chief economist on today’s SBET

“Main Street is doing better as state and local restrictions are eased, but finding qualified labor is a critical issue for small businesses nationwide. Small business owners are competing with the pandemic and increased unemployment benefits that are keeping some workers out of the labor force. However, owners remain determined to hire workers and grow their business.”

About the Small Business Economic Trends (SBET) report

The NFIB Research Center has collected Small Business Economic Trends data with quarterly surveys since the 4th quarter of 1973 and monthly surveys since 1986. Survey respondents are drawn from a random sample of NFIB’s membership. The report is released on the second Tuesday of each month. Today’s survey was conducted in March 2021.

The SBET’s primary value is anticipating short-run fluctuations in economic activity. An additional value of the SBET is its measurement of small business activities and concerns over time. The benefit of a longitudinal data set offers an invaluable perspective on how policies and business cycles impact small businesses over time. The SBET is one of the few archival data sets on small business, particularly when research questions address business operations rather than opinions. Today, it’s the largest, longest-running data set on small business economic conditions available.

Contact: John Kabateck, California State Director, John.Kabateck@nfib.org
or Tony Malandra, Senior Media Manager, Anthony.Malandra@nfib.org

Keep up with the latest on California small-business news at www.nfib.com/california, where this release can also be read, or by following NFIB on Twitter @NFIB_CA or on Facebook @NFIB.CA.


For 78 years, NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven association. Since its founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses and remains so today. For more information, please visit nfib.com.

1130 K St. Suite 150
Sacramento, CA 95814
Twitter: @NFIB_CA
Facebook: @NFIB.CA



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