(The Center Square) – Small businesses have ongoing concerns about the health of the economy, a newly released survey shows.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses released survey results Tuesday showing that their July polling of small business owners found they are less optimistic about the economy than the historical average.

“Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months improved 10 points from June to a net negative 30%, 31 percentage points better than last June’s reading of a net negative 61%. Forty-two percent of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, unchanged from June but remaining historically very high,” NFIB said. “This is the highest reading since August 2021 but historically very negative.”

This marks the 19th consecutive month where small businesses owners were more pessimistic about the economy than the historical average over the last 49 years.

“With small business owners’ views about future sales growth and business conditions dismal, owners want to hire and make money now from solid consumer spending,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Inflation has eased slightly on Main Street, but difficulty hiring remains a top business concern.”

Supply chain issues and elevated prices because of inflation has been a major issue for businesses. In the survey, 21% pointed to inflation as their top concern, down 3% from the previous month.

Small business owners cite the labor market as a top concern.

“Of those hiring or trying to hire, 92% of owners reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill,” NFIB said. “Thirty-three percent of owners reported few qualified applicants for their open positions and 23% reported none.”

NFIB’s research found that 43% of surveyed businesses report having a job opening they cannot fill.

“The small business economy continues to struggle with the current job market, with owners working hard to fill open positions,” Dunkelberg said. “Hiring plans are trending down but are still historically strong in the face of a weakening economy.”

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