Although tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks this year fueled small-business optimism to hit its highest level in decades, the latest CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, released Monday, reveals that small-business confidence is starting to cool.
After hitting a record high in Q3, the Small Business Confidence index declined from 62 to 59 in the fourth quarter, led by small moves lower in components across the board. This new data from CNBC and SurveyMonkey underscores the idea that while sentiment is at or near record highs, challenges still remain for Main Street.
The CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey, conducted from Nov. 19–29, polled more than 2,100 small-business owners.
The dip in the CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey comes at a time when the markets are punctuated by bouts of volatility and economic concerns loom over trade tensions and the shortage of skilled workers. The data supports other small declines in metrics, from the National Federation of Independent Business's monthly read on small-business sentiment in September and October, as well as trends around hiring and labor from Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
"Unemployment is down, small businesses are growing, but there are still some very troubling trends," said Todd McCracken, president of the National Small Business Association, in an email to CNBC. "The rate of small-business start-ups and small-business hiring continues to lag, one-quarter of small firms still cannot get the financing they need, and few can afford a good health insurance plan."