The Small Business Optimism index declined to 103.0 in September from 105.3 in August, as sales expectations dropped, the National Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday.

"The temptation is to blame the decline on the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, but that is not consistent with our data," said Juanita Duggan, NFIB President and CEO. "Small business owners across the country were measurably less enthusiastic last month."

Sales expectations sank 12 points in the month, while the number saying "it's a good time to expand" fell 10 points. Business conditions expectations and capital expenditure plans also dropped.

"The drop-off was consistent around the country regardless of region, and it's likely that members in Florida and Texas were underrepresented in this survey because of the obvious disruptions," said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. "The adjusted average employment change per firm dipped to -0.17, which is a significant drop in hiring activity.

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