Small-business confidence rises, but still low

Dunkelberg also said that the January report will help sort out how small businesses feel about Washington’s deal early this month to extend tax rates for family incomes up to $450,000 a year. But the NFIB economist also cautioned that the accord “certainly doesn’t guarantee a more positive forecast for the economy.”

“And let’s not forget what is looming on the horizon: a debate over the debt limit and a regulatory avalanche of historic proportions about to spill out into the country,” Dunkelberg added. “Happy New Year.”

NFIB found that small-business owners remained largely glum about the state of the economy, with the index covering business conditions six months down the road remaining at -35 percent. That reading was unchanged from November, when expectations about the economy’s future plummeted. 

Business owners have reported some increases in sales, according to NFIB, while the group said job creation in December was basically the same as November.