The level of optimism among small-business owners crept up incrementally for the second consecutive month in February, according to the monthly Small Business Optimism Index from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
The index inched up 0.4 points to 94.3 in February. That follows an increase of just 0.1 point in January.
Despite the slow gains to open 2012, the optimism index has now been on the rise for six straight months. It is at its highest point since February of 2011, when it registered 94.5.
The February 2012 index was buoyed by more optimism among business owners about future sales growth. Seasonally adjusted, a net 12 percent of survey respondents expected higher sales during the next three months. That is up two points from January.
“The survey points out that long-term, future sales growth is something business owners are optimistic about,” says NFIB New York State Director Mike Durant. “Business owners are thinking that they’ve been treading water for a significant period of time. So the light at the end of the tunnel has got to be closer.”
However, business owners’ optimism was blunted by a souring outlook for general business conditions. Seasonally adjusted, a net negative 6 percent of survey respondents expected better business conditions in six months, down from negative 3 percent in January. That means more survey respondents actually believe business conditions will be worse in six months.
The NFIB calculates net percentages by subtracting negative answers from positive ones. A positive survey result indicates more business owners responded optimistically, while a negative result indicates prevailing pessimism.
The NFIB randomly sampled 819 of its member businesses in February to develop the index.