Small-business-owner confidence increased again in December, according to data released Tuesday.
The National Federation of Independent Business‘s small-business optimism index rose 1.8 points to 93.8 last month from 92.0 in November. It was the fourth consecutive increase.
Despite the recent gains, “the level of the index is consistent with weak growth,” said the NFIB which also pointed out the index is close to recessionary readings.
“About half of the gain was due to reduced concerns about business conditions 6 months ahead and improved expectations for real sales gains,” said the NFIB report.
The subindex of expected business conditions in the next six months rose 4 percentage points to -8% in December, and the expected higher real sales subindex increased increased 5 points to 9%.
The new-jobs subindex fell 1 point to 6%. Last week, the NFIB said the net change in employment per firm turned negative again last month. Small businesses lost an average 0.15 worker per firm.
The earnings trend subindex jumped 6 points but remained in negative territory, at -22% last month.
Weak sales have prevented business owners from raising prices. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the net percentage of business owners raising selling prices was unchanged in December, at a zero reading.