Downtown Larned, Kansas

(The Center Square) – Kansas business owners increasingly say they remain uncertain about the future, with the ongoing labor shortage a main concern, according to an analysis of the National Federation of Independent Business' latest optimism index.

“There’s a number in this latest survey that should have all Kansans concerned,” Dan Murray, NFIB state director in Kansas, said in a statement. “In the last month, another 6 percent of our small business owners are saying they are uncertain about the future. That’s not a good sign. In order to recover from this pandemic, our small business owners need to lead the way. They are the backbone of our economy and if they are not optimistic about the future, this is a big cause for concern.”

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index increased to 100.1 in August, up 0.4 percentage points from July, NFIB reported Tuesday. Five of 10 index components improved, four worsened, and one remained unchanged, according to NFIB. NFIB's Uncertainty Index dropped seven points to 69, its lowest level since January 2016, NFIB reported.

“As the economy moves into the fourth quarter, small business owners are losing confidence in the strength of future business conditions,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said in a statement. “The biggest problems facing small employers right now is finding enough labor to meet their demand and for many, managing supply chain disruptions.”

According to the national survey of small businesses, 50% of owners reported trouble filling job openings. That's an increase of one percentage point from July and a 48-year high for the second consecutive month, according to NFIB.

Also, the number of owners "expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreased by eight points to a net negative 28%. This indicator has declined 16 points over the past two months to its lowest reading since January 2013," NFIB reported.