Small business grew slightly more optimistic in August as expectations improved for business conditions in 2011, despite the overhang of high unemployment, according to a survey released Tuesday.
The National Federation of Independent Business saw its Index of Small Business Optimism rise 0.7 points to 88.8, which the firm said is still indicative of a recessionary economy.
"We're still in the doldrums," NFIB President William Dunkelberg told CNBC in an interview.
Despite the gain, signs of pessimism pervaded the survey: Some 73 percent of business owners said "it is not a good time to expand" and just 4 percent said "it is a good time to expand."
"We still have more firms saying quarter-to-quarter sales are lower than they were saying they're higher," Dunkelberg said. "We're not looking at good numbers here."
The NFIB blamed Washington policy failures for the problems with small businesses and uncertainty with the future political climate is resulting in weak sentiment.
Voters "are more than restless and unnerved by what they see coming out of Washington," the NFIB said. "New solutions to the problems continue to be announced, but confidence in management is very low and continues to decline."
Stock futures added to losses following the release of the NFIB report.