Editor's Note: This article by Beth Braverman originally appeared on The Fiscal Times.
Optimism among small-business owners in December 2013 was marginally up from November, but was still below levels seen in the middle of 2013, according to the most recent Index of Small Business Optimism from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
The NFIB optimism index stood at 93.9 in December; pre-recession, the index averaged around 100.
“Small businesses are basically stuck in neutral,” said NFIB Connecticut State Director Andrew Markowski in a statement. “The recovery has been pretty uneven, with Wall Street making most of the gains. Small-business owners are waiting to see how their customers feel, which isn’t clear.”
Despite the lackluster outlook, reports of capital spending rose significantly in December, and job creation among NFIB firms was the best since February 2006. Owners hired more workers in December than their hiring plans indicated in November, and nearly two-thirds of business owners reported capital outlays, with spending spread across equipment and furniture.
Small-business owners remain worried about the contentious political climate, the impact of Obamacare, and the increasing national debt. Even so, this year may be particularly favorable for those business owners who are thinking about selling their company. A recent report by online business marketplace BizBuySell
said that the number of small-business deals that closed in the fourth quarter increased by 41.7% year-over-year.
A separate year-end report by Detroit-based law firm Dykema
found that more than two-thirds of mergers-and-acquisitions insiders believe that the M&A market will be stronger in 2014, while 50% have a positive outlook about the US economy over the next year.
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