The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has collected small business economic trends data since 1973. The NFIB monthly surveys are available at their excellent website. The NFIB March report states that the current trends remain on par with the 2008 trends.
While the report notes that there is some small progress of improved optimism, 76% of small business owners think that business conditions will either be the same or worse within the next six months. “The small business half of the economy is clearly languishing based on NFIB surveys of its 350,000 member firms.” Far more owners reported declining sales than reporting positive sales trends, and consumer spending remains weak. The report notes that the economy is “clearly bifurcated, with S&P process at record levels while GDP posts a growth rate of 0.1%.” The conclusions in the NFIB survey mirror what we are seeing: that small businesses are still struggling to turn a profit, especially those with significant leverage from the boom years, much of which is now being called due with refusals to renew. (NFIB Small Business Economic Trends, William Dunkelberg and Holly Wade (March 2013) www.nfib.com.