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Small business optimism soars

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Small business optimism is higher than it has been since the Reagan years, according to the National Federation of Independent Business’ Optimism Index for November.

“We haven’t seen this kind of optimism in 34 years, and we’ve seen it only once in the 44 years that that NFIB has been conducting this research, said NFIB President Juanita Duggan.

The NFIB, at first opposed to the administration’s tax bill, is happy with new revisions that will lower the tax rate for small business owners who pay taxes through their personal taxes.

Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB’s chief economist, said the November result is the second-highest in the index’s 44-year history and he clearly anticipates further upticks in the economy, perhaps pushing toward 4 percent GDP growth for the fourth quarter. “The change in the management team in Washington has dramatically improved expectations,” he said.

Dunkelberg said hiring plans soared, especially in construction, manufacturing and professional services. Finding qualified workers was the second most important problem facing small business owners last month, according to the poll. Only taxes polled higher.

“Small buisnes sowners are paying very close attention to what is happening in Washington,” Dugan said. “They continue to list taxes as their number-one problem, but they now have clear expectations that Congress and the president will address that problem.”

The survey showed 24 percent of business owners plan to hire, 26 percent plan to make capital outlays, 7 percent plan to increase inventories, 48 percent expect the economy to improve, 34 percent expect higher sales and 27 percent said it’s a good time to expand.

About 4 percent said all their borrowing needs were not satisfied, a historic low. About 32 percent said all their credit needs were met. Only 2 percent reported that financing was their top business problem, compared to 22 percent who cited taxes, 16 percent who cited red tape and regulations and 18 percent who cited availability of qualified labor.

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