An indicator of U.S. small business optimism improved in July, compared to June when optimism among small businesses had declined, the National Federation of Independent Business, or NFIB, said in its monthly report.
The NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism rose to 105.2 from 103.6 in June. Seven index components registered gains, two dropped, and one remained unchanged.
According to the monthly survey, 13% of small business owners reported increasing employment by an average of 4.5 workers per firm, up from 10% in June, and 11% reported reducing employment by an average of 1.6 workers per firm on a seasonally adjusted basis, unchanged from the previous month.
Meanwhile, a seasonally adjusted, net 19% of respondents plan to create new jobs, up 4 points, with higher levels not seen since December 1999.
Sixty percent reported hiring or trying to hire, up 6 points, but 52% of those reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.
Meanwhile, the percentage of small business owners who reported capital outlays did not change from June, at 50%, and there is still "little evidence" that capital spending is going to increase its contribution to growth "anytime soon," the NFIB said.
The economy grew about 2% in the first half of 2017, with the second quarter being "much stronger" than the first, and consumer spending being a major contributor to growth.