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NFIB Weekly News

NFIB Weekly News Leading the News

Small Business Optimism Sees Comeback In July (08/13/2019)

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index (8/13) for July rose to 104.7, an increase of 1.4 points, indicating a comeback in small business optimism and solid gains in expectations for business conditions, real sales, and expansion. NFIB President and CEO Juanita D. Duggan was quoted in reference to the US small business sector as saying, “While many are talking about a slowing economy and possible signs of a recession, the 3?? largest economy in the world continues to defy expectations, generating output, creating value, and expanding the economy. ... Small business owners want to grow their operations, and the only thing stopping them is finding qualified workers.” NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg was quoted saying, “Contrary to the narrative about impending economic doom, the small business sector remains exceptional. This month’s index is a confirmation that small business owners remain very optimistic about the economy but are being hamstrung by not finding the workers they need.”

Labor Department: US Labor Force At An All-Time High (08/06/2019)

The AP (8/2, Boak) reported the Labor Department said Friday that “U.S. employers slowed their hiring in July but still added a solid 164,000 jobs to an economy that appears poised to extend its decade-long expansion.” The unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%, while “average hourly earnings rose 3.2% from a year ago, up from a 3% year-over-year gain in June.” According to the AP, “Unemployment is near a half-century low,” and “the overall U.S. economy remains on firm footing.” A front-page Wall Street Journal (8/2, A1, Chaney, Kiernan, Subscription Publication) article also hailed the figures as a good sign for the US economy.

Mulvaney Says Trump Will Sign Budget Deal (07/30/2019)

Politico (7/28, Parthasarathy) reported, “President Donald Trump will sign the massive budget deal that’s headed to his desk, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday.”

Meanwhile, Rick Berger and Gary Schmitt, research fellow and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argued in the Wall Street Journal (7/28, Subscription Publication) that contrary to Trump’s claims, the deal is no victory for the US military, which in fact requires much higher funding than even this Administration is providing.

NFIB CEO Opposed To Federal Minimum Wage Increase (07/30/2019)

Chamber Business News (AZ) (7/25) reported that opponents of the proposed $15 federal minimum wage “indicate it would pull millions out of work. Small businesses and rural America would suffer most, they said.” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan called on the US Senate to block the proposal, saying, “The House dealt a devastating blow to small businesses today, risking record growth, job creation, and already increasing wages. In states and municipalities across the country, a mandated minimum wage hike has consistently led to lost jobs, production, and income, and it must not be replicated on the federal level.”

NFIB, Other Business Groups, Critical Of Federal Minimum Wage Increase Vote (07/23/2019)

CNBC (7/18, Rod) reported, “The House of Representatives’ decision to pass a bill raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour received almost immediate criticism from major business organizations.” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan was quoted saying, “The House dealt a devastating blow to small businesses today, risking record growth, job creation, and already increasing wages.”

Powell Signals Fed Likely To Cut Interest Rates This Month (07/16/2019)

Under the headline “Powell’s Message To Congress: Rate Cut Is Likely Coming Soon,” the AP (7/10, Crutsinger) reported that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, in the Fed’s semiannual report to Congress, “point[ed] to a weaker global economy, rising trade tensions and chronically low inflation,” and “signaled Wednesday that the Federal Reserve is likely to cut interest rates late this month for the first time in a decade.” Powell “said that since Fed officials met last month, ‘uncertainties around trade tensions and concerns about the strength of the global economy continue to weigh on the U.S. economic outlook.’” The AP added that “in addition, inflation has dipped further below the Fed’s annual target level.”

Business Climate

Unemployment Claims Fall To 209,000 (08/13/2019)

Reuters (8/8, Mutikani) reported according to the Labor Department, “initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 209,000 for the week ended Aug. 3,” which suggests, according to Reuters, that “the labor market remains strong even as the economy is slowing.” A Reuters survey of economists found they expected claims to “be unchanged at 215,000.”

Trump Urges Fed To Cut Interest Rates (08/13/2019)

The Washington Post (8/9, Paletta, Whalen) reported the President on Friday “said he ‘would love to see’ the Federal Reserve dramatically slash interest rates by an entire percentage point, part of an escalating White House campaign to weaken the U.S. dollar.” Trump said, “We are being handcuffed by the Federal Reserve.”

Survey Of Economists: Likelihood Of Recession In Next 12 Months Has Increased (08/13/2019)

Bloomberg (8/8, Saraiva) reported that according to an August survey of economists, “the likelihood of a U.S. recession in the next 12 months rose to 35%...from 31% forecast previously, as global trade tensions fuel economic uncertainty.” However, despite the increase “in recession odds, economists still see fairly healthy growth.”

Trump Says His Administration Is Not Yet Ready To Make Deal With China On Trade (08/13/2019)

In a front-page article, the Wall Street Journal (8/9, A1, Osipovich, Davies, Subscription Publication) reported that President Trump on Friday told reporters regarding US-China trade relations, “We’re not ready to make a deal, but we’ll see what happens.” Trump added, “We will see whether or not China keeps our meeting in September.” Meanwhile, Bloomberg (8/9, Wingrove) reported Trump on Friday also “said he won’t devalue the dollar amid an escalating trade war with China that has unleashed tit-for-tat actions on trade and currency policy.” The President said “we don’t have to” devalue the dollar, but added that the Federal Reserve “would automatically bring down the dollar a little bit” if it cuts interest rates. He added, “We have the safest currency of the world. We have the standard of the world.”

PPI Up Slightly In July As Energy Prices Rise (08/13/2019)

Reuters (8/9, Mutikani) reported the Labor Department on Friday announced that the Producer Price Index “increased moderately in July, lifted by a rebound in the cost of energy products, while underlying producer inflation retreated, which could allow the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates again next month.” Reuters added that the producer price index rose 0.2 percent in July and 1.7 percent year-over-year, in line with economists’ forecasts. Core PPI, which excludes volatile food, energy, and trade services prices, was down 0.1 percent for the month but up 1.7 percent for the year. The AP (8/9, Rugaber) reported the PPI is “the latest sign that inflationary pressures are largely in check.”

Poll: Majority Say Regulations, Spending Are Impeding Economy (08/06/2019)

The Washington Free Beacon (8/1, Faria) reported that a new poll “found that 55 percent of Americans rated the economy as good or excellent and 37 percent said the economy was getting better, compared to 24 percent who thought it was getting worse.” In addition, “56 percent Americans viewed cutting government spending as a way to improve the economy and 59 percent said the same of cutting budget deficits. A plurality of respondents also said deregulation would improve the economy, 41 percent to 32 percent.”

Small Business Marketing

Small Business Loan Application Approvals Hit Record Highs (08/13/2019)

Forbes (8/7, Arora) reported, “Approval rates for small business loan applications rose to another post-recession record (27.7%) at big banks ($10 billion+ in assets), while also climbing above 50% at small banks in July, according to the latest Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index.” At big banks as well as regional and community institutions, small business lending is strong and growing.

Adobe Among Companies Making “Important” Products In CX Market (08/13/2019)

TechTarget (8/6) reported Adobe, Salesforce, and LogMeIn made the “most important news so far this year in the customer experience technology market, and each of their newsworthy events will have a meaningful impact on the product portfolios that the vendors offer to customers.” Particularly, in March, Adobe “introduced customer data platform (CDP) features in its customer experience (CX) product suite, adding a foundational data-handling component.”

Mastercard, Salesforce Partner To Offer Tailored SMB Solutions (08/13/2019)

PYMNTS (8/5) reported Salesforce is joining Mastercard’s SMB program, alongside Intuit, to “supply solutions in the small business space” by “increasing revenue, boosting customers and improving customer engagement.” Ginger Siegel, head of small business at Mastercard, stated, “We are excited to further build on our small business benefits program together with partnerships like Intuit and Itemize, and now Salesforce, to deliver digital solutions that meet the needs of small business owners today and grow with them in smart, innovative and efficient ways tomorrow.”

Adobe Launches Digital Document Signing Tool For Small Businesses (08/06/2019)

Forbes (8/4, Marks) reported in its tech news of the week recap feature that Adobe has launched Sign for small businesses. Recent Adobe research found that “75% of business owners shared that they still sign documents with pen and paper, and that small business employees consider these processes as one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of efficiently running their business.” Adobe said that Sign will help business “digitize elements such as onboarding, contracts, payments/invoices, removing the efficiency obstacles brought about by pen and paper processes.”

Report: Senate Small Business Committee Divided On SBA Reauthorization (08/06/2019)

American Banker (8/2, Subscription Publication) reported Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio announced Friday that the committee would halt discussions on the SBA reauthorization bill because Democratic committee members “objected to a series of proposals aimed at giving small businesses more chances to comment on regulations that could pinch their bottom lines.” Rubio said in a statement, “Legislating requires compromise, but it is now clear that there are irreconcilable differences when it comes to easing the regulatory burden of America’s more than 30 million small businesses.”

SBA Publishes Proposed Rule For Small Business Runway Extension Act Implementation (07/30/2019)

Womble Bond Dickinson (7/24) reported that the SBA recently published a new proposed rule with the Federal Register to implement the Small Business Runway Extension Act’s passage. The rule “revises the measurement period for determining whether contractors qualify as a small business concern from three to five years,” but the SBA will “continue to apply the three-year measurement period pending its adoption of a Final Rule implementing the Act.”

Wages and Benefits

Analysis: Increasing Federal Wage Likely To Become Unnecessary Thanks To State, Corporate Action (08/13/2019)

In an analysis, Wall Street Journal (8/11, Morath, Subscription Publication) labor economics and policy reporter Eric Morath argued the federal minimum wage may become irrelevant as Amazon and dozens of other large employers and 29 states have set their own minimum wage higher.

Hourly Retail Minimum Wage Hit Record Mark Thanks To Support From Top Retailers (08/13/2019)

Retail Customer Experience (8/6) reported the “hourly retail minimum wage is the highest it has been since the end of 2003, primarily due to top retailer support for increased pay.” In fact, retail “titans Walmart and Target have been steadfastly promoting increasing the minimum wage with Walmart raising its hourly pay to $9 four years ago and $11 as of this year.”

Several US States Proposing Laws Increasing Number Who Qualify For Overtime Pay (08/13/2019)

The Wall Street Journal (8/7, Feintzeig, Subscription Publication) reported on proposals in several states to increase the number of workers who qualify for overtime pay. Washington state, for instance, is considering a rule that would increase the annual salary threshold for those who qualify for overtime pay threefold. Additionally, in Maine and Massachusetts, legislators are considering bills that would increase the number of workers eligible for overtime pay.

Administration May Release Healthcare Plan In September (08/06/2019)

The Wall Street Journal (8/3, Armour, Restuccia, Subscription Publication) reported the Administration is thinking about announcing a healthcare plan in September as part of its 2020 campaign strategy. The proposal could include covering preexisting conditions and the ability to sell insurance across state lines, according to sources.

Report Finds US Housing Affordability Is “Out Of Whack” With Minimum Wage (08/06/2019)

Yahoo! Finance (8/2, Belmonte) reported a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition highlighting how rent affordability and minimum wage “are intrinsically tied,” finding that “in only 10% of U.S. counties can a full-time worker earning the average renter’s wage afford a modest two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent, working a standard 40-hour work week.” NLIHC Vice President for Research Andrew Aurand said, “This affordability problem for rental housing for low-wage workers is really a national problem,” adding “Obviously, the cost of rental housing differs in different areas of the country, but what we find is places that appears to be more affordable also tend to be places where wages are lower. So there’s still a gap between what the lowest-wage workers earn and what the lowest-income families have as income and their rental housing costs.”

Kudlow: “We Can Have An Unlimited Wage” (07/30/2019)

Fox Business (7/23, Limitone) reported, “White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday that the U.S. economy is thriving and the minimum wage is headed toward $20.” He told Fox & Friends, “We can have an unlimited minimum wage through private sector prosperity.” His comments came after Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) “[called] for a federal minimum wage of $20 per hour on Sunday during an event in Detroit.”

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