PRINCETON, N.J. (12/8/14)--Small-business owners reported feeling more optimistic as the year nears is end, reflecting rising overall confidence in the economy and the U.S. jobs market, according to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index.
The overall index score rose to 58 in November, up from 49 in July. This is the highest score since the reading of 83 in the first quarter of 2008. However, the index remains well below pre-recession readings when it topped out at 114.
The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index surveyed small-business owners nationwide Nov. 10-14 on their sentiment about the current situation of their businesses and the performance expectations over the next 12 months.
The survey found small-business owners are somewhat more positive about the future than the present, although both components have risen steadily over the past two years. Owners' future expectations sit at 37, while the present situation rating comes in at 21. Both are higher than at any point since the first quarter of 2008.
It is an encouraging sign for the job market and U.S. economy overall that small-business owners' expectations about hiring over the next year are at their highest point since 2007, Gallup noted.
Twenty-six percent of respondents said the number of jobs at their companies will increase in the next year, while 8% said the number of jobs will drop. 2008 held the low point in hiring plans when net hiring intentions were underwater. A decrease in their workforce was forecast by 18% and only 14% anticipated an increase.
Gallup noted another positive point comes from the plans to make capital investments. Half of all small-business owners said they plan to make investments next year, up from 43% in 2013 and 41% in 2012.