Yesterday the National Federation of Independent Business published their December sentiment numbers. Unfortunately the trend of improving numbers that we saw over the last four months did not continue.
The report indicated a decline of -0.6% to 92.6. The trend seems to be moving higher but, when looking at the overall picture, the 92.6 reading is at the bottom of the 1991-1992 recession. That recession was not nearly this deep. The bottom of that recession is now the top after rallying for four months. This marks the 36th month of recessionary levels. Only once in that period did the Index get above 93 (last month) and has been below 90 for twenty-six months. This is a recovery but not a very strong one.
Anecdotal evidence from media interviews about the survey results indicate that the sentiment numbers are driven primarily by the lack of customer traffic. Without a renewed vigor from customers and clients, small businesses tend to shy away from hiring and investing.