- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2017

Small-business owners have a “vastly improved economic outlook” compared with six months ago, a trade association said Friday.

The National Small Business Association said its annual survey showed that 54 percent of small businesses — those with fewer than 500 employees — expect economic expansion in the next 12 months. Six months ago, only 29 percent of small business owners felt the same way.

“The number of small-business owners who say today’s economy is better than six months ago has nearly doubled since July,” said NSBA President and CEO Todd McCracken. “Unfortunately, small-business access to capital and hiring over the past year didn’t mirror that major uptick in outlook, and both indicators remained relatively stagnant.”

The survey found that 80 percent of small business owners said they are confident in the future of their business, the highest this indicator has been in nine years.

Among the 1,426 companies surveyed, 46 percent have a total annual payroll of $100,000 or less. Fifty percent of the companies have five or fewer full-time employees.

The small-business owners said their top concerns about Washington are ending partisan gridlock, simplifying the tax code, reducing health-care costs and addressing the federal deficit.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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