NFIB Small Business Index Reaches Four-Year High on Tepid Increase

Small business confidence reached a four-year high last month.

Confidence among U.S. small business owners nudged upward in January to reach the highest level in more than four years, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Federation of Independent Business.

The NFIB's Small Business Optimism Index rose a mere 0.1 points last month to reach 93.9. The reading is the highest reading since December 2007, the official start of the recession.

While the improvement in small business confidence for January marked the fifth month of consecutive growth, some analysts were pessimistic about its otherwise mild uptick.

"The most positive statement that can be made about January’s reading is that the Index did not go down; a change of 0.1 points is essentially no change and it is hardly indicative of a surge in economic activity," said NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. "Nothing happened last month that would significantly improve the small-business outlook; Washington is at a stalemate."

Coupled with a string of other recent news showing gains in retail sales, manufacturing, employment and stock market activity, the news may be seen as reflective of an overall improvement in the economic recovery, which has been mired in stagnation since mid-2009.