NEW YORK -- Small business owners' optimism sank again in July as they expected sales to weaken in the coming months, according to a survey released Tuesday.
The National Federation of Independent Business said its index of small business optimism fell 0.2 points to 91.2. The NFIB, which lobbies on behalf of small business owners on issues including taxes and health care, compiles the index from a survey of its members.
The drop in the index was the second in a row. Since it registered 86.5 after the recession ended in mid-2009, it has moved as high as 94.5 in February before starting to drop.
The survey found that the number of small business owners who expect their sales to fall in the next three months rose 3 percentage points to 28 percent. Only 21 percent said they planned to buy equipment or real estate in the next three to six months.
William Dunkelberg, the group's chief economist, said uncertainty over taxes, which is likely to continue until after the election, contributed to owners' uneasiness. He also noted, "Nothing happened in July that would make owners more optimistic about the near-term future."
The survey was in line with other reports that pointed to growing pessimism among small businesses. Although reports from the Labor Department and the payroll firm ADP showed a pickup in job growth last month, surveys have shown that small businesses are borrowing less. That's a sign they're holding off on expanding. The NFIB survey showed that the vast majority of the owners it surveyed – 79 percent – hadn't made any changes in their employment levels during July.
The survey questioned 1,803 randomly selected NFIB members.
Utilities Shut Off Over Unpaid Traffic Fines
Faced with a declining budget, the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico told residents that unless they settled outstanding traffic fines their gas, water and sewage utilities would be turned off.
Swimming Pools Closed
In 2011, cities around the country <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/31/city-budget-cuts-summer_n_869202.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">suspended summer activities for kids</a> including closing public swimming pools and eliminating library reading programs.
Circumcision Funding Cut
Due to cash-strapped hospital budgets, the state of Colorado in 2011 decided to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/24/circumcision-budget_n_883743.html" target="_hplink">no longer fund circumcision</a>. The measure will save an estimated $186,500 annually.
Dark Fourth Of July Skies
City budgets were stretched so thin in 2011 that many towns could <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/03/fireworks-budget-cuts-american-fourth-of-july_n_888845.html" target="_hplink">no longer afford to pay for July Fourth fireworks displays</a>. However, some towns came up with alternative ways to fund the traditional displays.
Volunteer Prison Chaplains
The state of North Carolina was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/08/prison-chaplains-budget-cuts_n_921605.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">forced to rely on volunteers to provide religious services to inmates</a> after laying off prison chaplains.
Teachers Take Extra Time Off
In Seattle, teachers agreed to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/10/seattle-teachers-take-fir_n_923790.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">take an extra day and a half off</a> to ease budget concerns in 2011.
Arizona State Capitol Sold
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/12/jan-brewer-arizona-democrats-capitol-complex_n_1202636.html" target="_hplink">Arizona Governor Jan Brewer sold the state capitol in 2009</a> to bring in some extra cash. In January 2012, she announced plans to buy the complex back.
Marching Band Uniforms Go Casual
The high school marching band in North Bend, Oregon changed its uniforms to T-Shirts, jeans and knit caps <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/21/north-bend-high-school-ba_n_1023851.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">after the school couldn't afford to replace the more formal ensembles</a>.
Police Stop Responding To 911 Calls
In Smithfield, North Carolina the chief of police told residents that unless he was allowed to spend $30,000 that was originally meant for office supplies on gas money, the town's police force would no longer be able to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/01/smithfield-north-carolina-police-gas-money_n_1069470.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">respond to some 911 calls</a>.
Tearing Up Streetlamps
In 2011, Highland Park, Michigan announced it would be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/07/highland-park-sreetlights_n_1079909.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">removing streetlights to help save on energy costs</a>.
Homeless Lose Access To Restrooms
In Sacramento, California a $200 million deficit led the city to install locks on public bathrooms <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/13/sacramento-united-nations-warning-homeless_n_1268946.html?ref=budget-cuts" target="_hplink">cutting homeless people's access to water and restrooms overnight</a>.
Baltimore Sells Historic Buildings
Due to a $48 million budget gap, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/29/baltimore-historic-landmarks-revenue_n_1389222.html?ref=business" target="_hplink">Baltimore government announced plans to sell historic buildings</a> including the home of a 19th century U.S. Senator.