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Small businesses are feeling slightly better about inflation


Martha C. White for CNN Business

(CNN) - Small business sentiment improved in August but remains depressed as business owners face an uncertain economic landscape.

Buoyed by marginally better expectations in the near term and a slight reduction in inflation worries, the monthly Small Business Optimism Index from the National Federation of Independent Business rose to 91.8 last month from 89.9, although it marked the eighth consecutive month during which optimism fell below the survey's five-decade average.

The share of business owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months was a still-downbeat -42%, albeit an improvement over the dismal -52% reading in July.

Business owners reported that inflation remained their most significant impediment, with 29% naming it as their biggest operational challenge, down from 37% in July.

Just trailing inflation as the most pressing problem facing small business owners was labor quality, which 26% cited as their top issue, while an additional 10% said labor costs were their top business problem.

"The small business economy is still recovering from the pandemic," NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said in a statement. "Inflation continues to be a serious problem... [and] the worker shortage is impacting small business productivity."

This story is developing and will be updated.

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