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The New Economy

Optimism fades among small-business owners in US

By / July 14, 2009

This restaurant in St. Petersburg, Fla., is one of a number of small businesses that have closed their doors recently. A new survey shows small-business owners are less optimistic than in May.

Edmund D. Fountain/St. Petersburg Times/Rapport Syndication/Newscom

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After a spring of hope, optimism is getting harder to find in the summer of 2009.

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After last week's reports of a sharp fall in consumer sentiment and higher-than-expected job losses in June, a new survey shows that small business owners are also curbing their enthusiasm. The index of small-business optimism fell by a point in June to 87.9, the National Federation of Independent Business reported Tuesday.

That was still better than the record low of 81.0 in March but below May's reading of 88.9.

"This pattern of a pronounced spring bounce and then a flattening out at still quite depressed levels is becoming more widespread amongst economic data, suggesting that the bounce in data seen over the spring was more representative of a correction from overly depressed levels than the beginning of a sustained recovery," wrote economist Joshua Shapiro of MFR Inc. in an analysis.

The lack of optimism – from both small business owners and consumers – points to a lack of willingness to hire or to spend, which in turn is dampening prospects for a strong upturn in the economy anytime soon.

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