Small business owners are bullish on the economy and reporting improved profits, according to a recent survey from The National Federation of Independent Business Owners (NFIB). Stronger sales, productivity gains, and new tax law contributed to the profit gains. “The optimism small businesses owners have about the economy is turning into new job creation, increased wages and benefits, and investment,” said Juanita Duggan, NFIB president and CEO. In fact, 76% of owners believe the current business climate is heading in a positive direction, according to the survey. However, NFIB found that 57% of small businesses are hiring or plan to hire, but 88% are having trouble finding quality candidates to fill those positions. For 22% of entrepreneurs, the struggle to hire is their biggest business problem. The job openings are for both skilled and unskilled labor. In April, unemployment rates fell to 3.9% indicating a tight job market, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The shortage of qualified workers is clearly holding back even stronger economic growth,” said Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB chief economist. “The high demand has real impacts. In some industries, nearly half of the firms have unfilled openings. It’s especially severe in construction and manufacturing.” An “advance” estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that the GDP grew 2.3% for the first quarter of 2018. The 2017 fourth-quarter GDP growth rate was 2.9%. A GPD between 2%-3% indicates healthy, sustainable growth in the economy.