) -- Small business optimism rose in November to its highest level since December 2007, but still remains at a recession-level reading, said the

National Federation of Independent Business


The NFIB's index rose 1.5 points to 93.2, the fourth consecutive monthly gain. Seven of the index's 10 components increased, while three declined.

Average employment growth per firm was slightly positive for the month of October, meaning small businesses are adding to private sector job growth.

Over the next three months, 9% of small businesses intend to increase their employment -- that's up from 8% in October -- while 12% plan to reduce hiring, down from 13%.

"Overall, job creation is likely to continue, but at a tepid pace," said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg in a statement.

The study also showed that the number of small business owners looking to increase capital expenditures increased two points to 20%. Many continue to liquidate inventory, and have little reason to order new stock.

Most survey responders said that their capital needs are met, and they aren't interested in borrowing.

--Written by Olivia Oran in New York.

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