Small business optimism soars in NFIB December survey

01/10/17 04:33 PM EST

UPBEAT OUTLOOK: Company owners' expectations for the economy surged after the election to the highest level since December 2004, the National Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday. The advocacy group said its Index of Small Business Optimism, compiled from a survey of 619 members, gained 7.4 points to 105.8 last month.

The number of owners who expect the economy to improve shot up 38 percentage points, while the number who expect their sales to rise increased 20 points. Since the recession, the components of the index have generally moved up only a few points at a time.

THE BIG PICTURE: The survey was in line with one taken by Wells Fargo & Co. immediately after Republican Donald Trump was elected president, which showed small business owners were feeling more upbeat. It also fit with a report by Thomson Reuters and PayNet that showed small businesses took out more loans and leases in November, a sign that owners felt more comfortable taking on debt.

WHAT ABOUT JOBS: The NFIB report, like one last week from payroll provider ADP, showed that owners aren't in a rush to hire even as they're feeling more optimistic. NFIB members said they added 0.01 workers per company, a minimal increase. The number of owners who plan to hire rose 1 percentage point to 16 percent.

ADP reported that its small business customers added just 18,000 jobs in December. For the year, they averaged nearly 63,000 a month for all of 2016.

Many owners have said in surveys they won't hire until their revenue has increased to a level that justifies taking on more staffers.