The latest index score rose 16 points from the previous quarter, to 12. This was the second consecutive increase for the index, which calculates the present and expectations from business owners on six measures: financial, cash flow, revenue, capital allocation spending, job hiring and access to credit.
Businesses are most optimistic about increased revenue over the coming months, according to Wells Fargo (WFC).
On jobs specifically, 23% of participants said they expect their headcount to increase, up from 18% in the fourth quarter. The number of employers who cut jobs also decreased, to 25% from 30%. The survey is based on telephone interviews with 603 small-business owners.
"Small businesses are feeling much better about this economic recovery than they did two quarters ago," says Dr. Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo. "It appears the change is driven by healthy gains in demand from consumers and businesses, which are leading to improvements in small businesses' revenue and cash flows."