February 23, 2009 18:25 ET

Despite Recession, U.S. Small Business Confidence Index Increases Six Points; Small Business Research Board Study Finds Increase in Key Indicators

BUFFALO GROVE, IL--(Marketwire - February 23, 2009) - Increases in the positive outlook for the general economy and hiring expectations helped boost the Small Business Research Board (SBRB) U.S. Small Business Confidence Index (SBCI) to 36 during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the latest report issued today.

As previously reported, the SBCI, from the survey conducted during the second quarter of 2008, was set at 30 -- six points (20%) lower than the current index of 36.

More than 500 owners and managers participated in the nationwide SBRB poll co-sponsored by IPA.

Small business owners and managers throughout the U.S. reported higher levels of expectations for the next 12 months in two of three categories comprising the confidence index.

31% of the respondents indicated they intend to increase hiring during the next 12 months, an increase of nine points from the 22% who reported increased hiring in the previous study.

Of the participants, only 40% said they believe the economy will improve, 12 points higher than the last study in the fall of 2008.

Increased optimism in the West/Pacific and South/Southwest drove the overall increase and improved outlook toward the nation's economy in the next 12 months. Owners and managers in the West/Pacific recorded a regional SBCI of 38, 10 points higher than the second quarter of 2008. Respondents in the South/Southwest recorded a regional SBCI of 44, eight points higher than the current national average.

The SBRB first began reporting a confidence index in the fourth quarter of 2005. When it was first introduced, the SBCI was set at 55.3.

SBRB Confidence Index Comparisons
SBRB Confidence Index
All U.S.
Q4 2008   36.0
Q2 2008   30.0
Q1 2008   43.67
Q4 2007   33.67
Q3 2007   43.0
Q2 2007   46.0
Q1 2007   40.78
Q4 2006   42.7
Q3 2006   39.3
Q2 2006   47.3
Q1 2006   52.0
Q4 2005   55.3

The Small Business Research Board ascertains and reports the opinions of small business owners and managers on a wide variety of topics related to their own businesses as well as national and international issues that may impact their operations. The SBRB conducts these studies for the benefit of small business owners and managers. The SBRB also provides opportunities for third parties to gain real time insight into the attitudes of small businesses nationwide through the independently conducted research.

IPA provides directly, or through its affiliated companies, a comprehensive array of business advisory services, tax and estate planning services or merger, acquisition and other financial advisory services in the United States and Canada. More information about IPA can be found at

For more information about this poll, results of previous studies or other matters related to the SBRB, please contact Jennifer Cumbee, (847) 495-6786.

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