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Data released on Tuesday showed the Small Business Optimism index fell in January to 95. January’s 0.9 point drop in small business optimism hardly comes as a surprise given the torrent of weaker economic reports received in December and January, explained analysts at Wells Fargo.

Key Quotes: 

“The share of small business owners expecting economic conditions to improve over the next six months fell seven percentage points to -23%, the lowest level since November 2013. Business owners also expressed additional concerns about future sales and earnings trends. Four out of the survey’s 10 components fell in January, and four others were unchanged. The share of small businesses with job openings and expecting credit conditions to improve both edged slightly higher.”

“Just over half of all small businesses (51%) reported hiring or trying to hire workers in January, which was unchanged from the prior month. Of those firms hiring or trying to hire workers in January, an astounding 90% reported few or no “qualified” applicants during the past month, down two points from the prior month.”

“Political influences are likely to become even more evident in coming months, as decisions are made on re-opening schools and businesses. Small business owners also pay keen attention to changes to the tax code and regulatory environment, as well as hot button issues, such as the minimum wage. Concerns about taxes and regulation have already begun to inch higher, with 34% of small business owners rating these two issues as the single most important problem, up 30% from one year ago. Poor sales were cited as the top concern by 11% of small businesses, up from 7% a year ago.”