US small business sentiment at second-highest level on record
Small business sentiment in the US improved more than expected in May, to the second-highest level in the National Federation of Independent Business survey's 45-year history.
The small business optimism index ticked up to 107.8 from 104.8 the month before, beating expectations for a reading of 105.2. Small businesses reported high numbers in several key areas including compensation, profits, and sales trends.
NFIB president and chief executive officer Juanita Duggan said: "Main Street optimism is on a stratospheric trajectory thanks to recent tax cuts and regulatory changes. For years, owners have continuously signalled that when taxes and regulations ease, earnings and employee compensation increase."
NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said: "Small business owners are continuing an 18-month streak of unprecedented optimism which is leading to more hiring and raising wages. While they continue to face challenges in hiring qualified workers, they now have more resources to commit to attracting candidates."
The index for economic expectations rose seven points, while the sales index was 10 points higher and the earnings trends index increased by four points.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said these are welcome developments but measures of sentiment aren't always a good guide to future activity.
"Capex intentions rose by only one point, and the index remains two points shy of the cycle peak, seen last August, before the hurricanes. We can't see any positive impact from the tax cuts here. Elsewhere, the key labour market numbers, most of which were released in advance, ahead of the official payroll report, as usual, were strong but little changed. The exception is reported worker compensation, which rose two points, to a record high."