...especially when they don't know how much it will cost to have new employees:
No new customers for small businesses, survey saysView all Economic Report ›
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Optimism among small-business owners improved marginally in January, with most saying lack of customers is keeping them from hiring or expanding their business, according to a survey released Tuesday.
"The weak state of small business confidence remains a roadblock to faster recovery," wrote John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros of RDQ Economics.
The index of small business optimism rose to 89.3 in January from 88.0 in December, the National Federation of Independent Business said, based on 2,114 responses to its survey. The index has been below 90 for seven straight quarters, a level it never breached during the 1991 or 2001 recessions. The index is typically above 100.
"Optimism has clearly stalled in spite of the improvements in the economy in the second half of 2009,"said William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the lobbying organization. "Small-business owners entered 2010 the same way they left 2009 -- depressed."
A net 1% of firms expected business conditions to improve in the next six months, down from 2% in December...
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