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Small-Business Owners Are Feeling More Upbeat — but Most Still Won’t Do This

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The glass is half full, more or less.

Owners of small businesses — and mid-sized ones, too — are feeling pretty good about the U.S. economy, according to the latest PNC Economic Outlook Survey.

But for the most part, that optimism isn’t translating into hiring plans for the next six months.

About 71 percent of respondents said they’re optimistic about the national economy. That’s the highest the number has been since 2005, according to PNC.

And 77 percent are optimistic about their local economy.

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Half of businesses surveyed said they expect their sales to increase during the next six months and 47 percent said profits will rise.

But only 22 percent expect to hire new full-time employees. In the spring survey, that number was 24 percent.

About two-thirds of businesses said they will maintain the same number of full-time workers, while 8 percent plan to reduce staff.

“The glass for small business owners appears half full instead of half empty, but they aren’t ready to buy a round for everyone,” said Stuart Hoffman, PNC’s chief economist. “We expect to see moderate economic growth for the rest of this year with enough improvement for a federal funds rate increase at the Federal Open Market Committee’s meeting in December.”

Asked what term best describes their feelings about the business climate during the next six months, “hope” was chosen by 55 percent. This compares to 16 percent for “enthusiasm.” On the negative side, 11 percent chose “fear” and 4 percent picked “despair.”

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