There's room for some cautious optimism for American workers at smaller companies: A net 16 percent of managers said they were planning to increase wages last month, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. That accounts for a three-point gain from August and the second-highest response since 2007.

The results come from 656 responses to a National Federation of Independent Business survey. At the same time, the group found that 67 percent of small business owners have rated the business climate in the U.S. as fair or poor and 63 percent think the U.S. is on the wrong path. When it comes to taxes, 67 percent of businesses owners think they pay too much.

“Every candidate for every office will talk about small business for the next 13 months. The real question is whether they’re listening to small business,” said Holly Wade, the research director for the National Federation of Independent Business in a press release. The Federation counts approximately 325,000 small and independent businesses as members.

Approximately 23 percent of small companies in the U.S. said in September that they had increased their compensation for workers. At the same time, the number of business owners who said they had increased pay for workers did not rise from the amount reported in August.

The National Federation of Independent Business’ small business optimism index rose slightly in September to 96.1 from 95.9, however it still remains below the average of 98. Plans to increase employment were down 1 percent in September, according to the survey.

“Small business optimism continues to be stagnant, which is consistent with the expected economic growth of about 2.5 percent,” said the Federation’s chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The percent of owners citing the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their Most Important Business Problem increased and is now third on the list behind taxes and regulations.”

The uncertain news over wage growth for small businesses comes after the U.S. economy created 142,000 jobs in September, a slowdown for the second month in a row.

The Labor Department reported in early October that average hourly earnings had increased in September by 2.2 percent compared with a year earlier.