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Business owners still not seeing economic improvement, but optimisim rising

Business owners evenly split on economic recovery prospects.

The results of a new survey released today report that small and mid-sized business owners are cautiously optimistic about the economy, although 96% say that they have not yet begun to see improvement.

The biannual PNC Economic Survey provides insights into how the nation's business owners view the U.S. economy's recent recovery. The survey finds that business owners are evenly split about the prospects of the nation's economy during the next six months, with 50 percent pessimistic and 48 percent optimistic. This compares to the record high 71 percent who were pessimistic last spring.

Key drivers behind optimism

  • Four in ten small business owners expect sales to increase compared to 26 percent in the spring.
  • Most (64 percent) expect their number of full-time employees to remain the same compared to 65 percent in the spring. More than half are taking measures to manage labor costs.
  • Capital spending plans remain weak.
  • Only 22 percent plan to raise prices.

Key drivers behind pessimism:

  • Nearly all (96 percent) business owners say that the economy has not yet begun to improve.
  • Eight out of 10 say they have yet to benefit from the federal stimulus program.
  • Business owners are skeptical about health care reform, with 57 percent saying it will have a negative effect on their business.

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