Small business optimism continues to slowly improve

Small business owners across the nation are growing increasingly optimistic about the year ahead, according to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index.

Overall, optimism among small business owners has reached the highest level in six years. In a quarterly survey of small business owners, conducted March 31-April 4, the overall Small Business Index score moved to positive 47 (+47) in April, up two points from positive 45 (+45) in January 2014. Future expectations are helping increase optimism. The future expectations score, now at a positive 33 (+33), is higher than at any point the since the start of 2008, however it is still well below pre-recession levels.  

Several factors contributed to the modest improvement in small business optimism:

  • Small business owners are more positive about their ability to obtain credit in the year ahead. The percent of businesses expecting credit to be difficult to obtain the next 12 months (26 percent) is at its lowest level since the third quarter of 2008.
  • Capital spending is slightly more positive. For the second consecutive quarter, more business owners expect to increase the amount of money allocated for capital spending (28 percent) than decrease (23 percent) over the next 12 months.

“The trend of business owners feeling more confident each quarter is a positive sign, yet the level of improvement we see today remains small, and we’re less than halfway between the lowest point in our survey’s 10-year history and the highest levels of business owner sentiment reached in 2006,” said Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo head of Small Business and Pacific Midwest regional banking president. “These results are one more indicator that the recovery continues for small businesses. During National Small Business Week, we think it’s as important as ever for our country to focus on this important segment of our economy, and start a national conversation on what’s needed to restore small business owner confidence to pre-recession levels.”

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