Small business owners are feeling better about the state of the economy and the future than they have since before the recession.
The latest Small Business Optimism Index from the National Federation of Independent Businesses hit 98.1 for December, it’s best mark since February 2007. The index is still only slightly above its historic average of 98 from 1974 to 2014.
The biggest improvement came in the future expectations portion of the index, as respondents are very optimistic that they expect the economy to improve and expect real sales to be higher.
Filling open positions continues to be a challenge for many small businesses, according to the report. More than half of small businesses reported they are trying to fill positions and 45 percent reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they are trying to fill. Twenty-four percent said they have openings they cannot fill.
NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg credited the Republican’s victories in November’s midterm elections for much of the improvement in optimism.
“This performance will have to be consolidated by several more positive readings before owners are confident to hire more employees and expand their business. But it’s a good sign that comes at a good time for small business,” he said.