Small-business optimism up for sixth consecutive month

The index comes as the economy has shown some positive signs in recent reports.

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On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February, and also said the economy added more jobs in December and January than previously reported.

Gallup also said Tuesday that its economic confidence index remained at its highest point since January 2008.

But a couple of recent polls have shown that President Obama could be vulnerable on gas prices in this election year, with prices at the pump having risen 30 cents per gallon, on average, over the last month.

Dunkelberg also said gas prices could weigh down small-business growth.

“The price of gasoline is a wild card, and rising energy costs will weigh heavy on the minds of small firm owners,” he said.

In all, NFIB found small-business owners did generally add to their payrolls in February, and that more companies were expecting higher sales. But the group also said that more than 1 in 5 small-business owners still say poor sales are their most pressing issue.

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, said Tuesday that the report shows that the business community is still feeling wary, and urged Senate Democrats to pass the bipartisan jobs bill that cleared the House last week.

“As long as our nation’s most robust job creators feel this type of pessimism about our economy, we will not experience long-term, sustainable growth that will lead us to a full recovery,” Graves said in a news release.