Small business owners grew slightly more optimistic about their economic outlook in September, even as more firms planned to cut staff than hire new workers.
The National Federation of Independent Business said its optimism index edged up 0.2 points, to 89 in September - the latest sign of sluggishness in the U.S. economic recovery, according to a report from Reuters.
"The downturn may be officially over, but small business owners have for the most part seen no evidence of it," William Dunkleberg, the group's chief economist, told Reuters.
The federation poll showed that 16 percent of small businesses plan to cut jobs in the next three months, up from 13 percent in an August survey. Only 8 percent expected to hire workers.