Small Business

Small firms seeing some signs of hope

Confidence up for small business owners

By a variety of indicators, optimism is holding fairly steady on Main Street.

As the U.S. economy continues to climb out of recession mode, America's small businesses are feeling consistently positive and also borrowing at record rates. The National Federation of Independent Business reported a gain of 1.3 points to 95.4 in its latest small-business optimism index reading for July, citing expectations for business conditions and in particular plans to add inventories and real sales gains as two of the biggest drivers in the jump.

The conservative lobbying group notes this number is below its average of 98, although the index has been tracking steadily higher post-recession.

"The economy isn't bad. It's certainly not a recessionary time," said Gene Marks, who owns The Marks Group in Philadelphia, providing tech and financial services to some 600 small- and medium-sized businesses in the mid-Atlantic region. "There's less uncertainty than there's ever been with gridlock in Washington. They are also not seeing significant headwinds that would preclude them from making small investments."

Adding to this the Paychex/ IHS Small Business Jobs Index is also showing steady job growth among the nation's small businesses, holding above the 100 mark for nearly four years. Seven of nine regions measured showed growth in July.

"Stability is apparent this summer, and this year, in contrast to the volatility of the preceding year," the report states.