August 30, 2021

Delaney Sexton
Contributing Editor

Main Street Monday – Construction and Manufacturing Industries are Optimistic While Retail and Services Industries are Concerned

“Small businesses are working hard to recover from the pandemic while still facing strong headwinds,” says Holly Wade, Executive Director of NFIB’s Research Center. “Each industry is recovering differently but all have been impacted by the lack of qualified workers and for many, supply chain disruptions.”

The NFIB released an industry-specific Small Business Economic Trends quarterly report. Here are the key findings:
Construction Industry
• In July, the Optimism Index for construction increased 1.4 points since April and reached 98.8.
• The construction industry is struggling the most to find employees for unfilled job openings. 61% of job openings remain unfilled. 59% of the job openings in the industry are looking for skilled workers, but 66% of construction firms report few or no qualified candidates.
• Earning trends decreased significantly (12 points) since the last quarter and are at a net -22%. 65% of construction firms reported raising prices this quarter.

Manufacturing Industry
• The July optimism index for the manufacturing industry is at 105.2, 5.5 points above the overall Optimism Index.
• 60% of manufacturing firms reported unfilled job openings, but a net 41% of firms plan on creating new jobs in the next three months.
• A net 9% of manufacturing owners expect higher sales in the next quarter.

Retail Industry
• The retail industry saw the July Optimism Index fall 2 points since April. It is at 100.4 and is still slightly above the overall Optimism Index.
• Since the previous quarter, the earning trends for the retail industry decreased 11 points to a net -9%. Retail owners’ expectations for economic conditions in the next six months declined 9 points to a net -22%.
• A net 20% of retailers reported that their current inventory levels are “too low”, and this is 8% higher when compared to all small businesses. 13% of retail owners plan on increasing their inventories in the next three to six months.

Services Industry
• The July Optimism Index for the services industry increased to 100.2.
• A net -1% of owners expect higher sales in the next quarter. This is an 11-point decline since April. Also declining 11 points, a net -9% of business owners expect better business conditions in the next 6 months.

NFIB Report