Small business owners are feeling more optimistic, albeit marginally, according to the National Federation of Independent Business' Optimism Index. The November survey of over 780 small business owners showed that business confidence rose 1.2 percent over last month to its highest level since February.
Confidence among small business owners is still well below pre-recession levels, but the report highlights several factors that suggest a brighter future isn't too far off. Of the 10 indicators the index measures, eight improved or remained unchanged.
"We're seeing some fairly good traction in sales, employment and business conditions," Holly Wade, Senior Policy Analyst at NFIB, told the Huffington Post. "There have been upticks across a broad range of business activity and any small change looks really good."
Over the next three months, seven percent of the surveyed business owners plan on hiring, a four point increase since October and the highest rating in over three years. In addition, four percent of small businesses expected sales to increase, an eight point jump since October. But despite the slight uptick, 25 percent of business owners said poor sales is still their top business problem. The most recent report, however, doesn't account for sales from "Black Friday" and "Small Business Saturday," which will be reflected in December's survey.
With small business at the center of some prominent political debates, Wade believes progress in Washington could provide added optimism at small firms. "The political climate is certainly a main issue when it comes to business owners deciding on expansion," she said. "Hopefully, they will see new policy ideas that fit their business and that will help increase their confidence in the future."