Depsite the fact that the National Federation of Independent Business' optimism index rose in October, showing the second gain in as many months, NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg says overall, the number is not great news.
“It’s only one point above where we were back in January, so basically we’ve gone nowhere since the recession allegedly ended,” he told CNBC Tuesday morning.
The number, 90.2, was up from 88.9 in September, and 88.1 in August, but below the year-to-date average of 91.1.
“Owners are pessimistic," he said. "And they don’t see any reason to be optimistic about the future.”
Dunkelberg said that small business owners believe the economy will get worse before it gets better. Asked whether he could foresee anything happening between now and the holidays to change the outlook, he answered, “nothing. I expect the number to be around 90, and I expect it to continue that way for some time.”
Dunkelberg pointed to consumer spending as the main cause of small business pessimism.
“If you look at the consumer sentiment index, it’s the lowest we’ve seen since 1980," he said. "The consumer is not happy. If the consumer is not happy, then they’re not spending with any exuberance. So we have no reason to hire more workers or get more inventory.”