Offering signs of hope the economic recovery is solidifying, new data shows a more optimistic Main Street that plans to boost wages and raise prices.
More small- and mid-sized U.S. business owners plan to raise salaries, according to the fall PNC Economic Outlook Survey findings, released Thursday. About 38 percent of business owners surveyed said they expect to increase employee compensation in the next six months—the most since 2008, when the financial crisis struck.
While the unemployment rate fell in August to 6.1 percent, according to the U.S. Labor Department, wage gains for the most part have not been widespread.
"Wage growth has been a missing piece of the labor market puzzle to date," said PNC's Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman, in a prepared statement.
The survey also found 38 percent of business owners surveyed plan to hike prices during the next year. While some of that strategy can be attributed to hedging against anticipated higher costs that include health care, the price hike is also about optimism.
"Some of this is health-care cost related, but they also feel business is improving," Hoffman told CNBC. "They are also planning on pay raises, so their labor costs will also go up."
In addition to cost pressures, Hoffman said small companies overall feel demand and the economy are improving, so they can afford to raise prices without losing business, Hoffman said.
About 20 percent of small-business owners plan to add full-time employees, according to the PNC survey. That's down slightly from 22 percent six months ago, but up from 16 percent this time last year.