America's small businesses haven't been this pumped up since the 'roaring Reagan economy'

  • The NFIB's measure of small business optimism reached its highest level in 34 years in November.
  • A handful of more specific indexes also climbed to record or near-record levels.


A measure of US small business optimism hit its highest level since 1983 last month, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey released Tuesday.

The index gained 3.7 points in November, a big jump from the near-record performance seen in the previous month, NFIB data showed. In addition, eight of 10 components posted gains, including a rare 16-point increase in a reading of expected better business conditions.

9 pieces of business advice from Forbes' '100 greatest living business minds':

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9 pieces of business advice from Forbes' '100 Greatest Living Business Minds'
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9 pieces of business advice from Forbes' '100 Greatest Living Business Minds'

Sheryl Sandberg, on empathy:

"We are better employees when we stop trying to be two people and bring our whole self to work. that doesn’t mean working around the clock. it means sharing what you are going through so that other people can empathize and help you."

Elon Musk, on foresight:

"We’re the first species capable of self-annihilation, and it’s extremely likely, given enough time. The question: Can we get ahead of it?"

Sean Parker, on innovation:

"I have always chosen to ignore the conventional wisdom in favor of the ideas that interested me. Inventing the future starts with intellectual curiosity — along with a healthy dose of skepticism."

Warren Buffett, on investing:

"Find a good business — and one that i can understand why it's good — with a durable, competitive advantage, run by able and honest people, and available at a price that makes sense.”

Jack Dorsey, on mistakes:

“My biggest mistake was thinking i shouldn’t show my mistakes — I learned I should.”

Mark Zuckerberg, on motivation:

“People often ask me for advice about starting a company, and I always tell them your goal should never be starting a company. Focus on the change you want to make, find the people who share your same purpose, and eventually you may have an opportunity to build something that helps create purpose for others and has a positive impact on the world.”

Bill Gates, on revolution:

“Because it's so easy for someone with a great idea to share it with the world in an instant, the pace of innovation is accelerating — and that opens up more areas than ever for exploration.”

Richard Branson, on risk:

“We take tons of risks in life, whether personal risks or business risks. We sometimes fall flat on our face. But people don’t mind people who try things and fail.”

Michael Bloomberg, on risk/reward:

"Organizations resist innovation — and those that do inevitably fail — because people are more comfortable with what they know than with what they don’t."

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"Not since the roaring Reagan economy has small business optimism been as high as it was in November," NFIB wrote in its release.

Here are some other key takeaways from the report:

  • Job creation plans increased six points in November, "providing more evidence of a strong labor market," said the NFIB
  • The number of owners who said it’s a "good time to expand" rose 4 points
  • A net 24% of respondents said they plan to create new jobs, up 6 points to a record reading

"We haven’t seen this kind of optimism in 34 years, and we’ve seen it only once in the 44 years that NFIB has been conducting this research," Juanita Duggan, the organization's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Small business owners are exuberant about the economy, and they are ready to lead the U.S. economy in a period of robust growth."

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