NFIB Weekly NewsLeading the News NFIB Highlights “Major Concerns” With Build Back Better Act In Webinar (01/18/2022)
The Oklahoma Journal Record (1/12, McNutt) reported on NFIB’s Federal Update webinar, saying, “The Build Back Better Act is wounded but not dead and the final version could have serious implications for small businesses. The National Federation of Independent Business highlighted some major concerns during a webinar Wednesday.” NFIB Federal Government Relations Manager Courtney Titus Brooks was quoted saying, “While a lot of very, very problematic tax increases dropped out, we still have a very significant one we are pushing back on.” The Journal Record added, “That is a 3.8% tax increase on active business income over $400,000 for single filers and on over $500,000 for those filing jointly. The threshold is only $13,000 for businesses held in a trusts.” NFIB Vice President of Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman was quoted saying, “Proposed mandates in the Build Back Better Act also have been reduced, including an expansive 12-week paid family and medical leave that was reduced to four weeks per year.”
NFIB December Survey Sees Small Businesses Grappling With Inflation, Staffing Challenges (01/18/2022)
The Wall Street Journal (1/12, Guilford, Subscription Publication) highlighted NFIB’s December SBET survey, saying, “In December, some 49% of small businesses said they planned to raise prices in the next three months, on net, according to the” NFIB.
The Center Square (IL) (1/12, Harper, Square) quoted NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg saying, “Small businesses unfortunately saw a disappointing December jobs report, with staffing issues continuing to impact their ability to be fully productive. Inflation is at the highest level since the 1980s and is having an overwhelming impact on owners’ ability to manage their businesses.”
On NTD News (1/11), Dunkelberg was quoted saying, “The index only went up by half of a point…We’ve got record-high percentages of owners with job openings trying to hire, trying to get inventory, doing all those good things to help the economy and improve employment but…the net percent expecting the economy to be better is -34%.”
Supreme Court Rules Against Vaccine Mandate For Private Businesses (01/18/2022)
The Washington Post (1/13, A1, Barnes) reported last Thursday that “the Supreme Court on Thursday stopped the Biden administration’s vaccination-or-testing requirement for the nation’s largest employers.” The Post says, “The court has been supportive of state requirements targeting the pandemic, but skeptical of broad federal responses. All six of the court’s conservatives said Congress had not given the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) power to impose such a sweeping requirement in workplaces across the nation.”
NBC News (1/13, Williams) reported that NFIB Small Business Legal Center Executive Director Karen Harned “called the Supreme Court ruling a ‘welcome relief’ to businesses struggling to keep afloat during the pandemic. She expressed optimism that with the OSHA rule now halted, the lower courts will proceed to find the regulation illegal.” Harned was quoted saying, “As small businesses try to recover after almost two years of significant business disruptions, the last thing they need is a mandate that would cause more business challenges.”
Small Business Optimism Increases Slightly In December (01/11/2022)
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index (1/10) increased slightly to a 98.9 reading in December, up 0.5 points from November. Twenty-two percent of small business owners reported inflation as the single most important problem encountered in their business operations. NFIB says price-raising activities has reached levels not seen since the early 1980s. NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg was quoted saying, “Small businesses unfortunately saw a disappointing December jobs report, with staffing issues continuing to impact their ability to be fully productive. ... Inflation is at the highest level since the 1980’s and is having an overwhelming impact on owners’ ability to manage their businesses.”
Some Justices On US Supreme Court Express Skepticism About Biden’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate (01/11/2022)
The New York Times (1/7, A1, Liptak) reported, “The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed to be leaning on Friday toward blocking one of the White House’s main pandemic-fighting strategies, expressing skepticism that the Biden administration has the legal power to mandate that large employers require workers to be vaccinated or to undergo frequent testing.” The Times said, “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the states and Congress, rather than a federal agency, were better suited to address the pandemic in the nation’s workplaces. ‘This is something that the federal government has never done before,’ he said, adding that the administration’s several virus-related mandates were ‘a workaround’ in response to congressional inaction.”
Small Business Owners Not Optimistic About Economic Prospects In 2022 (01/04/2022)
Forbes (12/30, Sherman) reported on small business owners’ hopes and concerns going into the new year, highlighting business concerns such as high inflation levels, rising partisanship, supply chain issues, and labor shortages. Forbes also cited NFIB’s November SBET, saying, “Looking at the November 2021 Small Business Economic Trends report from the National Federation of Independent Business, things are also on the glum side. The main number—the groups ‘optimism index’—was 98.4, which sounds good and represents an indexed result that uses 1986 as the base month with an index of 100. ... But other parts of the study were larger indicators of troubled attitudes. About 59% of small businesses raised prices, which is a record. The net number of small businesses expecting to raise prices was another record at 54%.”
Business Climate Small Businesses Continue To Suffer Under Omicron Challenges (01/18/2022)
Reuters (1/16, Brooks) reported that small businesses across the US “are besieged on three fronts: deepening supply chain issues; periodic staffing shortages; and fewer customers showing up in some areas, fearing the Omicron spike in COVID-19 cases.” The Federal Reserve’s “latest collection of anecdotes about the state of the economy from businesses, labor groups and others nationwide...show[s] that the fast-spreading Omicron variant was exacerbating difficulties, especially for hiring and inflation.” Reuters adds, “Though federal aid and the economy’s overall recovery have kept failure and bankruptcy rates for small businesses far lower than expected, day-to-day management has become a challenge. Census surveys conducted since early in the pandemic show concerns steadily shifting from dwindling cash reserves and a hunt for financing to challenges with supply chains and rising costs.”
Business Owners Raising Prices, Cutting Employee Hours In Response To Rising Costs (01/18/2022)
The AP (1/16, Anderson) reported higher prices “are yet another challenge thrown at business owners by the global pandemic. The unpredictability of shipping, labor and the coronavirus itself have created an environment where owners are often left guessing about when products might arrive and how much they’ll cost.” According to the Labor Department “prices at the wholesale level rose a record 9.7% in December from a year ago. ... In response, owners are raising prices, cutting staff hours, dropping some goods and services and nixing free shipping in a delicate balancing act. But with low visibility into how long the higher inflation will last, some owners are increasingly worried about keeping their doors open in the long run.”
Inflation Hits 40-Year High In December (01/18/2022)
Bloomberg (1/12) reported, “U.S. consumer prices soared last year by the most in nearly four decades, sapping the purchasing power of American families and setting the stage for the Federal Reserve to begin hiking interest rates as soon as March.”
The AP (1/12, Rugaber) reported that the Labor Department revealed the consumer price index rose 7% in December, while “the measure of inflation that excludes volatile food and gas prices jumped 5.5% in December, the fastest such increase since 1991. Inflation rose 0.5% overall from November, down from 0.8% the previous month.” According to the AP, “Rising prices have wiped out the healthy pay increases that many Americans have been receiving, making it harder for households, especially lower-income families, to afford basic expenses.” Axios (1/12, Irwin) noted that “prices rose more slowly in December than earlier in 2021, with the 0.5% surge down from 0.8% in November and 0.9% in October.” However, Axios adds that “an 0.5% monthly inflation rate, if sustained for a full year, would work out to 6.2% annual inflation, still far above the 2% the Federal Reserve aims for.”
US To Spend $10B To Help Small Businesses (01/11/2022)
The Wall Street Journal (1/8, Omeokwe, Subscription Publication) reported that under the State Small Business Credit Initiative, the federal government planned to offer $10 billion to assist small companies get access to capital. The program was meant to spur business in disadvantaged communities and to bolster the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
Meanwhile, another article in the Wall Street Journal (1/8, Haddon, Subscription Publication) reported that in a letter to members of Congress, over 3,300 restaurant operators warned their businesses may shut permanently unless lawmakers revive the federal fund created last year to assist the food-service industry. The operators pointed out in their letter that as the pandemic approaches the end of its second year, the restaurant industry is grappling with high costs and fearful customers.
Senators Discussing Another Round Of Stimulus Spending (01/11/2022)
The Washington Post (1/5, Romm) reported that Democratic and Republican senators “have held early discussions about another round of coronavirus stimulus spending as they seek to blunt the fast-spreading omicron variant and its threats to public health and economic recovery.” The Post said “efforts have focused primarily on authorizing billions of dollars to help an array of businesses...that face another potential blow to their already-battered balance sheets as a result of the evolving pandemic.” Talks “have been led by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.),” who have “cobbled together the outlines of a roughly $68 billion proposal.”
Fed Officials Discussed Raising Rates At A “Faster Pace Than...Earlier Anticipated” (01/11/2022)
The New York Times (1/5, Smialek) reported that Federal Reserve officials “deliberated the path ahead for interest rates at their December meeting, suggesting that they may need to remove their support for the economy more quickly than they had previously expected at a moment of high inflation and rampant uncertainty.” The Times added that Fed policymakers “projected that they would raise interest rates three times in 2022, the economic estimates they released following their Dec. 14-15 meeting showed,” and “economists and investors think that those increases could begin as soon as March.” According to the Times, “Given their outlooks for growth, the labor market and inflation, the Fed officials noted that ‘it may become warranted to increase the federal funds rate sooner or at a faster pace than participants had earlier anticipated.’”
Small Business Marketing Small Businesses Seeing Marketing Success On TikTok (01/18/2022)
Digiday (1/13, Monllos) reported that small business owners have been able to post “organic content” to TikTok “that goes viral and helps boost their business.” Businesses and marketers “have focused on [TikTok], often as a way to diversify their social media mix, using organic and paid strategies to get in front of the more than 29 million monthly active users on the platform. At the same time, small businesses have started to do the same, according to Danielle Johnson, TikTok’s head of SMB account management, North America.” Digiday added, “It’s unclear how much of TikTok’s ad revenue is made up of SMBs as the platform declined to share those figures. That said, the platform is looking to continue to beef up its offering for SMBs with education series as well as working closely with brands when they begin to spend on the platform to continue to improve their experience on TikTok.”
Social Media Commerce Growing At “Torrid Pace” (01/11/2022)
The E-Commerce Times (1/5) reported, “Shopping on social media platforms is growing at a torrid pace — three times faster than traditional e-commerce platforms — and is on a pace to reach US$1.2 trillion globally by 2025, according to a study released Tuesday by” Accenture. Accenture Managing Director Kevin Collins said, “Like many internet trends, it will start with a younger generation, but it’s not going to stay there. ... We have TikTok moms now...and Gen X’s and boomers have been coming to TikTok over the last year and are really starting to make some noise and do some really interesting things on the platform. I think social commerce is going to go the same way.”
Facebook Marketing Tips For Small Business Owners (01/11/2022)
Business 2 Community (1/5) featured tips to help small business owners reach target audiences on Facebook. B2C discusses dynamic product ads, multi-product ads, and conversion-tracking pixels, among other tools.
Small Businesses Advised To Target “Niche Set Of Customers” At Outset (01/04/2022)
In Forbes (12/29, Schroeder), contributor Bernhard Schroeder advised small business owners and startups to initially focus on serving a “niche set of customers” within a larger market. Schroeder wrote, “The key to establishing your own niche market is research. By diligently researching niche markets, you can determine what unique segments already exist, and explore where new ones could be successfully developed based on industry or customers trends. Once you’ve found a potential niche market, it’s essential to think about whether it can become profitable via a current or new business model.” Schroeder added that the benefits to targeting a niche market are “reduced competition initially,” focused marketing efforts, product or service differentiation, and “time to build your brand loyalty.”
Six Marketing Tips For Small Business Using Instagram (12/28/2021)
NASDAQ (12/23, Crawford) featured marketing tips for small business owners using Instagram to reach customers. Several of the tips highlight how small businesses can use their Instagram accounts to appear more personable and relevant to customers, such as by giving “a few trusted employees access to the business’s Instagram account” to post content, or by highlighting employees and customers’ experiences on the account. Nasdaq also recommended planning what will be posted to Instagram ahead of time, and using features such as Stories to keep updating content without overwhelming followers with too much content.
Small Business Marketing Strategies That Work (12/21/2021)
TechRadar discussed “six small business marketing strategies that work.” These strategies are “clearly define and understand who your ideal customers are,” “outline your product values and benefits, and align your products with your customers’ needs,” “discover the best marketing channels for reaching your customers,” “create marketing and content that will resonate with your customers,” “execute your marketing campaign,” and “track what’s working and tweak as necessary.”
Wages and Benefits WPost Advocates For US To Mandate Paid Sick Leave (01/18/2022)
In an editorial, the Washington Post (1/15) admonished America for not mandating paid sick leave, especially when many must choose between going to work with COVID or going without pay. While 95% of those with the highest incomes have paid leave, that drops to 35% among the lowest paid workers, many of whom are front-line workers in restaurants and grocery stores. The Post hoped Congress will “require all companies to offer paid sick leave.”
WSJournal Praises Maine City Council Decision To Reverse Minimum Wage Hike (01/18/2022)
In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal (1/11, Subscription Publication) lauded a decision by the City Council Portland, Maine to lift a state of emergency that resulted in the city’s minimum wage rising from $13 to $19.50 on Jan. 1. The Journal said the Council made the decision after hearing from small business owners about the impact the increase would have.
Unemployment Rate Fell To 3.9% In December; Wage Gains Accelerated (01/11/2022)
Bloomberg (1/7, Pickert) reported the Labor Department announced last Friday that the US unemployment rate “fell below 4% and wages jumped last month, adding to evidence of a tight labor market that’s expected to help spur Federal Reserve interest-rate liftoff as soon as March despite disappointing payroll growth.”
The AP (1/7, Rugaber) reported that the unemployment rate “fell in December to a healthy 3.9% – a pandemic low – even as employers added a modest 199,000 jobs, evidence that they are struggling to fill jobs with many Americans reluctant to return to the workforce.” The AP also reported, “The drop in the jobless rate, from 4.2% in November, indicated that many more people found work last month. Indeed, despite the slight hiring gain reported by businesses, 651,000 more workers said they were employed in December compared with November.” The AP added that “wages also rose sharply in December, with average hourly pay jumping 4.7% compared with a year ago.”
Record 4.5M Americans Left Their Jobs In November (01/11/2022)
Bloomberg (1/4, Rockeman) reported a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in November, according to the Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) released on Tuesday.
CNBC (1/4, Cox) reported the November increase “represented an 8.9% increase from October and broke September’s high-water mark of 4.36 million. As a percentage of the workforce, the quits rate of 3% matched September’s mark.”
Twenty-Six States Raise Minimum Wage At The Start Of 2022 (01/04/2022)
CNBC (12/29, Lucas) reported, “Next year, 26 U.S. states and Washington will raise their minimum wages, but only California and parts of New York will mandate hourly pay of at least $15, according to a report from payroll experts at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S.” However, many employees “will see more substantial pay increases because their employers chose to raise their pay floor on their own.” CNBC added that “20 states have the same pay floor as the federal minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. The majority of those states have elected Republicans as their current governors and have a lower cost of living than states that are raising their minimum wages.”
WSJournal: Paper Shows Expanded Unemployment Benefits Discouraged Work (01/04/2022)
In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal (1/2, Subscription Publication) cited a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research which shows the job market would have recovered faster had Congress not passed and then extended expanded unemployment benefits. While the Biden Administration has dismissed claims that the expanded benefits were discouraging people from seeking work, the Journal said the paper offers evidence that was the case.
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