Small Businesses
Optimism among small business owners hit the highest mark in a decade, according to a new survey. A general view of the atmosphere at Small Business Saturday Night in New York City, Nov. 29, 2014. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Small Business Saturday Night

U.S. small business owners are more optimistic than they've been in nearly a decade, and are more confident about the future of the economy than at any point since the great recession or during the Obama administration.

The latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index update was released Tuesday, and it showed the index hitting 100 for the first time since July 2007. The index has undergone a steady climb, although one full of peaks and valleys, since hitting a low of -28 in 2010.

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The results are based on a survey of U.S. small business owners conducted between Feb. 6 and 10. Seventy-one percent of owners surveyed said their overall financial situation was "very" or "somewhat good," which represents a five percent increase over November's results. Nearly half of respondents — 45 percent — reported their revenues had increased a little or a lot in the past 12 months, up from 37 percent last quarter. Nearly two-thirds of surveyed business owners said their cash flow over the previous year was "very" or "somewhat good," up from 55 percent in November.

Confidence among small business owners has translated into hiring. Businesses with less than 50 employees added 104,000 jobs in February, according to a report released last week by payroll provider ADP. That represents a surge after small businesses added 62,000 jobs in January, and just 18,000 jobs in December.

Despite present optimism, small business owners still have plenty of concerns. A plurality of respondents (28 percent) said government policies were their most important challenge, followed by economic issues (24 percent), financial issues (17 percent), marketplace issues (12 percent) and hiring (8 percent).

With government policies leading the list of small business owner concerns, it's no surprise that optimism has ticked up under President Donald Trump, who has promised to slash federal regulations. The average small business owner spends $12,000 annually on regulations, and nearly one third of small businesses spend 80 hours a week or more dealing with federal regulation, according to the 2017 Small Business Regulations Survey published in January by the National Small Business Association.