U.S. small business sentiment rose in August to 92.9, following three previous months of declines, according to a new survey from the National Federation of Independent Business(NFIB).
But the data shows small-business optimism remains at recession levels, and few businesses are expanding amid political uncertainty.
"The index rose 1.7 points to another recession-level reading," said William Dunkelberg, chief economist of NFIB. The August optimism index rose from 91.2 in July. "We're in maintenance mode."
The report stated that current small business spending remains depressed, hiring is weak and few businesses are ordering new inventory.
Plus, the presidential race remains a huge overhang on small businesses as major capital expenditures remain on hold, according to the report.
“There is too much uncertainty to make major financial commitments, so owners are keeping their powder dry. This includes loan demand, with record levels of owners expressing no interest in a loan to finance new projects or hiring," the survey states.
But there were some bright spots in the report. Employment indicators for the fourth quarter improved, as did capital outlays.
No New Jobs for Small Business in August
Tuesday's data echoes weak August jobs numbers for small business.
"Any serious job creation this year will have to come from large firms or new small firms created to meet the needs of millions of new consumers due to population growth. But existing small businesses are unlikely to expand before the election," Dunkelberg said in a statement to the monthly jobs report released last week.
The government reported total U.S. employment growth remained weak in August, with 96,000 new positions created. The unemployment rate, though, dropped to 8.1 percent. (Read more: New Jobs at 96,000, Missing Expectations)