WASHINGTON (4/9/14)--After a disappointing February, small business sentiment rebounded in March, as the National Federation of Independent Business' Small Business Optimism Index gained 2 points, pulling it up to 93.4 (Economy.com April 8).
An expectation that sales numbers will brighten over the next six months drove the improvement, analysts said.
While March's number erases much of the 2.7-point decline seen in February, and sits 3.9 points higher year-over-year, it still fails to breach the 95-point ceiling that has capped the index since the start of the recovery (NFIB.com April 8).
Current sales and earnings trends still are lagging, the index found, pinning down hope from businesses for continued recovery in the coming months--especially considering the tight credit environment.
A net 6% of businesses said sales have deteriorated over the past three months, and 24% said earnings have fallen over that same stretch.
Additionally, fewer companies said they plan to hire new employees in the next six months, though business leaders added that they do plan to raise compensation for existing workers.
Those heftier paychecks could boost consumer spending, which could translate to stronger days ahead for the construction industry, compounding the recent trend of rising revenues for construction businesses.
Construction companies are among the few operations to see such gains of late.
Still, only a net 18% of companies said they feel the economy will deteriorate over the next six months, which falls low on the subcomponent's range, according to Economy.com.