Dunkelberg said the level is still well below the average reading of 100 in the prior 35 years and still half a point below that December 2007 reading.
Owners have stopped reducing employment, but they have not resumed hiring. The average increase in employment came in at a negative 0.11 workers per firm, the third negative monthly reading in a row.
All told, 20 percent of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period (up 1 point), a potentially good sign for the falling unemployment rate, while 15 percent reported using temporary workers, up 3 points from June.
But uncertainty remains among employers, with only 9 percent of respondents saying that now is a good time to expand their businesses.
Owners expecting better business conditions in six months was a net negative 6 percent, 2 points below June’s reading.
Those reporting higher nominal sales in the past three months compared to the prior three months improved a point, rising to a negative 7 percent.