Small-business optimism up, but some signs remain grim

Optimism among small-business owners edged higher in July, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), but it said the overall results suggest "the small-business half of the economy is still not pulling its weight."

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"Capital spending reports remain mediocre, spending plans are weak, inventories are too large, more owners report sales trends deteriorating than improving (although by a small margin now)," the NFIB said in a statement. "It is hard to find that '3 percent growth for the balance of the year' that many economists are predicting."

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Optimism rose 0.7 points in July to 95.7 from the previous month, still about 5 points below the average from 1973 to 2008 and nowhere near readings typical of a real economic expansion, the NFIB said.

The NFIB survey of small-business owners found 13 percent of owners added an average of 2.9 workers per firm over the past few months, up 1 percentage point from June.

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Fifty-three percent of owners hired or posted job openings in the last three months and 24 percent reported job openings they could not fill.

U.S. economic growth accelerated more than expected in the second quarter. Gross domestic product expanded at a 4.0 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said.

By staff