Small business optimism inched up slightly in January, but it still remains well below pre-recession average levels, according to the most recent Index of Small Business Optimism from the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
That represents the third monthly increase in optimism among small business owners, though each month’s increase has been smaller than the last.
“Employment starts 2014 over a million below its peak in January 2008, and prospects for a major recovery in jobs are not good,” NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said in a statement. “NFIB labor market indicators have recently seen a return to normal (but not expansion) levels, encouraging in that reversals are now less likely.”
The business owners who were surveyed were more confident about sales (showing a 7 percent jump in positive expectations) and plan the most hiring since 2007. They continue, however, to find inventories “too high” and sales and earnings trends continued to decline.
The NFIB January Index is based on responses from 1,884 members who were surveyed throughout January.
As the country heads into an election year, small business owners remain worried about the contentious political climate.
Despite the forbidding outlook, this may be a good year for those business owners who are interested in selling their company. A recent report by online business marketplace BizBuySell said that the number of small business deals completed last year grew 49 percent from 2012, the first year of significant growth since record lows in 2009.
BizBuySell expects the sales of small businesses to continue to heat up through 2014, thanks to strong fundamentals, including aging owners who want to sell, an increase in qualified buyers, and an increase in small business financial performance.
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