While there's evidence suggesting the jobs market is slowly recovering, a large chunk of small-business owners remain pessimistic and expect the economy to remain stagnant or worsen in 2013, according to a new survey of 600 small firms. Most respondents also said they plan to trim costs, and 87 percent said they did not plan to hire additional employees.
The survey was conducted by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.com in December, and 63 percent of respondents said they expect the economy to remain unchanged or weaken further. E-commerce software companies Vendio and Auctiva also contributed to the report.
"The data showed that while online merchants remain optimistic about their own growth prospects, they are skeptical about overall economic growth," said Annie Xu, general manager of Alibaba.com, Americas.
Top concerns for small businesses this year not surprisingly are taxes (70 percent, according to the survey), government regulation (50 percent) and the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (or 36 percent).
While a fiscal deal was reached earlier this month on tax increases and spending cuts, benefits remain elusive for much of Main Street — a key driver of job creation during past economic recoveries.
The National Federation of Independent Business said earlier this month that its small-business optimism index crept up 0.5 point to 88 points in December 2012 from 87.5 points in November. The December reading is the second lowest since March 2010.
(Read More: Small Business Confidence Nearly Flat for December)
"The eleventh hour 'deal' has brought marginal certainty about tax rates and extenders, and will provide some relief to owners, but it certainly doesn't guarantee a more positive forecast for the economy," NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg said in a prepared statement.