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NFIB Weekly News

NFIB Weekly News Leading the News

Fed Officials Considering Rate Cut In Two Weeks (10/22/2019)

In a front-page article, the Wall Street Journal (10/18, A1, Timiraos, Subscription Publication) reported the Federal Reserve is expected to cut interest rates when officials meet in two weeks, even as they debate further cuts moving forward. In another article, the Wall Street Journal (10/18, Iosebashvili, Otani, Subscription Publication) attributed the stock market’s strong performance to the Fed’s actions to help maintain economic growth.

Small Business Optimism Index Shows No Signs Of Recession (10/15/2019)

24/7 Wall Street (10/13, Ausick) reported on NFIB’s small business optimism index for September, noting that it “slipped from 103.1 in August to 101.8,” while showing “no sign of a recession.” NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan was quoted saying, “All indications are that owners are eager to do more, but they’re uncertain about what the future holds and can’t find workers to fill the jobs they have open,” while Chief Economist William Dunkelberg was quoted saying, “The persistence of unfilled job openings and reports of a deficiency of job applicants indicate that there is still substantial economic optimism about the economy on Main Street.”

Biryla: Corporate Transparency Act Onerous For Small Business, Unlikely To Be Effective Against Crime (10/15/2019)

NFIB New York state director Greg Biryla wrote in the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard (10/8) that “it is highly questionable that” the Corporate Transparency Act “will do much to address global terrorism, trafficking or laundering operations, but it will certainly succeed in creating extensive and onerous new regulatory, reporting, and security burdens for hundreds of thousands of small business owners.” Biryla added that the measure “is a massive intrusion by government, and it would have a pronounced impact across Central New York. Nearly 80% of businesses in Central New York have fewer than 20 employees.”

September Small Business Optimism Falls, Yet Remains Historically High (10/08/2019)

NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index for September took a slight dip, falling by 1.3 points to 101.8. Nonetheless, the index maintained a historically high level, falling within the top quintile of all historical data. The index reflected continued job creation, investment, and spending, while the Uncertainty Index reflected high levels of concern, though “the survey shows no sign of a recession.” NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan was quoted saying, “As small business owners continue to invest, expand, and try to hire, they’re doing so with less gusto than they did earlier in the year, thanks to the mixed signals they’re receiving from policymakers and politicians. ... All indications are that owners are eager to do more, but they’re uncertain about what the future holds and can’t find workers to fill the jobs they have open.”

NFIB President Calls On Congress To Make Small Business Tax Cuts Permanent (10/08/2019)

NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan wrote in Fox Business (10/2) that “the 2017 tax cuts are a big win for small business,” as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act addressed small business owners’ concerns over federal business income taxes going back years. Duggan said most NFIB members that reported lower taxes invested the gains in their businesses, most commonly as pay raises for employees. However, a “growing concern” among members “is the future of the tax cuts,” most of which expire at the end of 2025. Duggan called on Congress to “make permanent its most important parts to small businesses, which means passing the bipartisan Main Street Tax Certainty Act.”

NFIB Quoted In Opinion Pieces (10/08/2019)

Former SBA Administration and The Latino Coalition chairman Hector Barreto wrote in Fox Business (10/5) that “while the stock market spikes and dips, small steady and doing great. Small-business owners are feeling great about the future, too.” Barreto mentioned NFIB’s small business optimism index, saying it “has been at historically high levels since 2017.”

Business Climate

NFIB Cites High Compliance Costs As Reason To Vote No On The Corporate Transparency Act (10/22/2019)

MarketWatch (10/21, Reklaitis) reports the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Corporate Transparency Act this week. Marketwatch says the bill’s supporters “are sounding optimistic and highlighting how the measures have scored significant backing from Republicans and Democrats,” with a bipartisan set of sponsors for it, and a related bill, the ILLICIT CASH Act, in the Senate. However, the NFIB is urging a no vote from lawmakers as the bill could “saddle small businesses with $5.7 billion in compliance costs over a decade.” Brad Close, NFIB’s senior vice president for public policy said of the Corporate Transparency Act: “We are supportive of efforts to curb money laundering, terrorism and other criminal activities, but this bill is not the answer. ... Small business owners cannot afford the additional compliance costs or serious privacy risks that come with this legislation.”

Trump: US-China Trade Deal May Be Signed Within A Month (10/22/2019)

Reuters (10/18) reports President Trump on Friday told reporters that he “thinks a trade deal between the United States and China will be signed by the time the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings take place in Chile on Nov. 16 and 17.” Trump is quoted as saying, “I think it will get signed quite easily, hopefully by the summit in Chile, where President Xi and I will both be. ... We’re working with China very well. A lot of good things are happening.”

Fed Survey: US Economy Expanding, But Business Worried About Trade Tensions (10/22/2019)

Reuters (10/16, Dunsmuir) reported, “The U.S. economy expanded at a slight to modest pace in September and early October but many firms are more downbeat about the months ahead, a Federal Reserve report said on Wednesday, the latest sign that the impact of U.S. trade policies continues to cloud the country’s economic outlook.” The Fed said in its report, “Business contacts mostly expect the economic expansion to continue; however, many lowered their outlooks for growth in the coming six to 12 months.” The report “also said the pace of price increases remained modest.”

Bank Executives Begin To Worry About An Economic Slow Down (10/22/2019)

The New York Times (10/15, Flitter) reported that while the executives of “America’s largest banks have been some of the country’s most prominent optimists over the past two years, shooing away questions about the potential effects of President Trump’s trade policies, cheering his tax cuts and offering periodic reassurances that things would all work out for the American economy,” manufacturing activity and job growth “are slowing, and trade talks with China have so far produced only an interim agreement that still has to be written and signed. And bankers are starting to worry.” JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Tuesday said, “Of course there’s a recession ahead – what we don’t know is if it’s going to happen soon.”

Report: Latino-Owned Businesses Seeing Strong Growth Under Trump (10/22/2019)

Breitbart (10/20, Furr) reported, “Latino-owned businesses are experiencing significant growth thanks to a strong economy,” according to Biz2Credit, which found that “Latino business owners are enjoying a 46 percent jump in revenue this year, which will bolster the nation’s thriving economy.” Breitbart added, “Alfredo Ortiz of the Job Creators Network said that although Democrats claimed the Trump economy was no help to the Hispanic community, the facts revealed the opposite.”

House Small Business Committee Invites Tech Companies To Attend Hearing On Small Business Competition (10/22/2019)

The Hill (10/17, Birnbaum) reported the House Small Business Committee issued formal invitations Thursday to “some of the largest tech companies in the country to testify at an upcoming hearing about whether their practices harm small businesses.” Specifically, Committee Chair Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) “invited Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple to testify at a hearing in November, underlining that the committee is looking for a response by Oct. 31.” Velázquez said, “It is no secret that big tech platforms have grown exponentially in the digital era, altering the ways American consumers buy products and shifting many traditional business models. Given this, I believe it is appropriate and necessary to bring big tech companies and small businesses to the table to discuss how the rise in online retail and digital platforms is shaping the playing field for America’s small firms.”

Small Business Marketing

Salesforce Introduces Order Management Function, Following Partnership With Mastercard (10/22/2019)

PYMNTS (10/11) reported Salesforce is “rounding out its offering for online sellers with the addition of Lightning Order Management.” The piece notes that in August, Salesforce “announced a partnership with Mastercard, with Salesforce joining Mastercard’s small business program alongside Intuit to bolster small to medium-sized business (SMB) services.”

Small Business Owners Prepare For Next Recession – Whenever It Comes (10/22/2019)

In an article looking at how small business can begin to prepare for the next economic downturn, CNBC (10/20) cited Capital One’s recent 2019 Small Business Growth Index survey, which found that “nearly two-thirds (64%) of small business owners said current business conditions are good or excellent, while 43% said they are concerned that a recession will impact the success of their business in the next year.”

What Small Business Lending Data Means For Entrepreneurs (10/22/2019)

Forbes (10/19) contributor Serenity Gibbons discussed the importance of “small business lending” as a “sound” metric for predicting periods of recessionary economic activity. She said that, according to the SBA, “bank lending to small businesses fell further than it did for enterprise companies. The reason is that startups are more sensitive to disruptions in supply and demand, so they defaulted faster and at higher rates than larger firms.” Gibbons said that “so far this year, small business revenue has risen by more than 18%. But American small business borrowers could pull back if they see the trade war worsen.”

Capital One Survey: Small Business Owners Confident, Even As Recession Concerns Mount (10/15/2019)

In continuing coverage, the Motley Fool (10/9, Kline) reported that the new Capital One Small Business Growth Index shows that nearly two-thirds of small business owners believe current business conditions are “good or excellent,” even as 43% of respondents “say they are concerned that a recession will impact the success of their business in the next year.” There is considerable overlap between the two groups, according to the article, with the Capital One survey finding that there are many “who believe that conditions are good or excellent now but also feel that a recession may be coming.”

Fintechs Increase Small Business Lending (10/15/2019)

Eden Amirav, CEO and co-founder of Become, wrote in Payments Source (10/9) that many small businesses are “crunched for credit, but where traditional banks have failed to meet entrepreneurs’ needs, a rising breed of fintech upstarts are starting to fill the void.” Amirav pointed to the recent launch of Stripe Capital as an “encouraging preview of how this new breed of lenders can help fuel small business growth through a tech- and data-savvy approach.” While he argued Stripe’s move to “start offering loans to its merchants represents a step in the right direction,” Amiraz believes that “to truly succeed, lenders like Stripe will need to expand their lending to small businesses beyond their own merchants.”

Study: Banks Failing To Meet The Needs Of SME Clients (10/15/2019)

Bank Innovation (10/8) reported that a new study from Forrester Research has found that banks “should be leaning more on digital than human” as they turn their attention to small business clients, arguing that “banks should be investing more in digital services that make onboarding processes simpler for their small and medium-sized business clients (SMEs).”

Wages and Benefits

WSJournal Analysis: Adapting German Practices To US Economy Likely To Fail (10/22/2019)

The Wall Street Journal (10/20, Morath, Subscription Publication) reported that Democratic presidential candidates have praised elements of the German economy particularly regarding relations between unions and corporations, but that experts believe it would be difficult or impossible to adapt those elements to the US economy and culture. The Journal specifically cited the inclusion of worker representatives on corporate boards and the practice of sector-wide contracts negotiated between business associations and unions. These, the Journal said, would require substantial changes to US law, and cited experts as saying that the economic benefits might be illusory, stating that workers’ wages have risen more rapidly in the US than in Germany since 2000 and the German system appears to be having difficulty in the face of foreign competition.

Warren Says She Will Release Plan To Pay For Medicare For All In “Coming Weeks” (10/22/2019)

The New York Times (10/20, Kaplan) reported Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “said on Sunday that she will release a plan to finance ‘Medicare for all’ in the coming weeks,” which, the Times said, means she is “bowing to critics from the left and the right who have criticized her for not outlining how she would pay for” her plan.

Analysis: ACA Ruling Could Impact Presidential Election (10/22/2019)

The New York Times (10/18, Goodnough) said three judges on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals are “preparing a ruling on the Affordable Care Act that could put the law’s future front and center in the presidential race, overwhelming the current Democratic debate over Medicare for all and reigniting the health care-driven worries that helped Democrats win back the House last year.” The court is “weighing whether to uphold a Texas judge’s ruling that the law’s requirement for most Americans to have health insurance is unconstitutional, and that the rest of the sprawling law cannot function without it.” The Times said, “a ruling against Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement as president” could “would open a huge vulnerability for” President Trump, “whose health care platform,” according to the Times, “largely consists of attacking as socialism Democratic plans to expand government health care.”

Op-Ed Warns Against Raising Minimum Wage (10/22/2019)

Employment Policies Institute Managing Director Michael Saltsman, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (10/17, Subscription Publication), wrote that San Francisco restaurants are closing due to increased minimum wage, worker protections, lack of development, and permitting requirements. Saltsman went on to warn against Democratic presidential candidates’ proposals to increase the minimum wage.

District Judge Expected To Rule On H-2A Minimum Wage Injunction (10/15/2019)

The Salem (OR) Capital Press (10/10, Wheat) reported from Richland, Washington that US District Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. is expected to “rule soon on a request from tree fruit growers for a preliminary injunction to halt an increase in the minimum wage for tree fruit workers.” During arguments on October 9, Mendoza “said he understands harvest is underway and that a decision is needed quickly, said Peter Spadoni, a Wenatchee attorney representing McDougall & Sons Inc. and Columbia Fruit Packers Inc., both of Wenatchee, and Evans Fruit Co., of Cowiche.”

Amazon Faces New Suit Over Overtime, Wage Claims In Federal Court In Washington State (10/15/2019)

Bloomberg Law (10/10, Dailey, Mulvaney, Subscription Publication) reported a new suit filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington by a driver employed by an Amazon Delivery Services Partner claims the e-commerce company is responsible for overtime claims from drivers. The suit argued Amazon is more of a joint employer to these drivers than a purchaser of services from the DSP company and “is the latest to argue the Seattle-based online retailer should be liable for overtime and minimum wage violations,” the story reported. Amazon “has been the subject of litigation over joint employment for the work it contracts out, including cases in Florida, California and North Carolina,” Bloomberg Law added.

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