By Patrick Thomas
Small-business owners' confidence in the U.S. economy slipped in June, after four consecutive months of improvement, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index had a June reading of 103.3, down 1.7 points from the prior month. The NFIB said uncertainty levels increased, as expectations for sales gains and general business conditions faded.
The index declined for five consecutive months prior to February's report.
"Some 'tariff' inflation pressures may be surfacing as the percentage of firms raising selling prices rose significantly," the NFIB report said. "Job openings and plans to create jobs weakened a bit, but remain historically very strong."
Overall, six components in the index fell in June, three improved and one was unchanged.
The NFIB survey is a monthly snapshot of small businesses in the U.S., which account for nearly half of the country's private-sector jobs. Economists look to the report for a read on domestic demand and to extrapolate hiring and wage trends in the broader economy.
The NFIB survey results--based on responses from 606 small-business owners last month--showed the net percentage of owners expecting higher sales volumes fell 6 points to 17% of owners, the weakest reading since September 2017, excluding the government shutdown earlier this year.
The report noted that job creation slowed in June, adding 0.21 worker per firm on average, down from 0.32 worker in April and May. The uncertainty index rose seven points to its highest level since March 2017, the report said.
"The only strength came from the inventory sector, with owners marking existing stocks as very lean and planning to add to them," the NFIB report said.
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