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Record Number of Small Business Say Now Is a Good Time to Expand

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    Small business optimism is booming.

    Optimism among small businesses in the U.S. rose by more than expected, with a record number of small business owners saying now is a good time to expand, according to the National Federal of Independent Business survey released Tuesday.

    The overall index rose by two points to 106.9, higher than the 105.3 forecast by economists. That brings it close to the all-time record high of 107.5 set in November. Thirty-two percent of respondents say now is a good time to expand, exceeding the highest levels ever measured in the survey that began in 1973.

    “Main street is roaring,” said NFIB President Juanita Duggan. “Small business owners are not only reporting better profits, but they’re also ready to grow and expand.”

    Actual earnings climbed 11 points in January compared with the prior month, hitting the highest point since 1988. There were also gains in the measure of plans to make capital outlays and plans to increase inventories, indicating that small businesses plan on investing more.

    “This is in large response to the new management in Washington tackling the biggest concerns of small business owners–high taxes and regulations,” NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said.

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    There were also positive signs for workers in small businesses. Plans to raise compensation rose one point to a net 24 percent, the highest reading since 1989, according to the NFIB. Reports of businesses already paying workers more also rose, to a net 31 percent, the highest reading in 45 years.

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