Small business optimism grew in January, as a record number of owners said now is a good time to expand, the National Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday.

The Small Business Optimism Index climbed to 106.9 in January from 104.9 in December.

"Main Street is roaring," said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan. "Small business owners are not only reporting better profits, but they're also ready to grow and expand. The record level of enthusiasm for expansion follows a year of record-breaking optimism among small businesses."

Nearly a third of respondents (32%) said now is a good time to expand, the highest level in the history of the NFIB survey, which began in 1973.

Actual earnings surged 11 points in January, to the highest level reported since 1988. Plans to make capital outlays rose two points, and plans to increase inventories grew four points.

"The historically high index readings over the last year tell us small business owners have never been more positive about the economy," said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. "This is in large response to the new management in Washington tackling the biggest concerns of small business owners — high taxes and regulations."

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Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel has been at The Bond Buyer since 1989, currently covering economic indicators and the Federal Reserve system.