A year-end economic report by the National Small Business Association indicates a more positive economic outlook for small businesses in the U.S.

While two-thirds of small-business owners continue to expect a flat economy in the year ahead, the number who anticipate a recession was more than cut in half at 14 percent, down from 30 percent six months ago. In addition, the number of small businesseses predicting economic expansion in the coming year nearly doubled from 12 percent to 20 percent in six months.

“Despite some cyclical ups and downs weve seen in the past several years, this report indicates real growth for the small-business community,” said NSBA president Todd McCracken in a statement. “Although we are far from where we need to be, it appears that small businesses have turned an economic corner.”

Revenue growth was at its highest point in more than three years, with 46 percent of small businesses seeing increases, up from 39 percent six months ago. There was a commensurate drop in those who reported decreases in revenue, from 37 percent to 31 percent. While job growth remained unchanged, with just 22 percent of small business owners reporting increases—the number of small businesses (23 percent) reporting employment decreases was the lowest it's been in three years.

When asked which issues are most important for policymakers to address, small businesses overwhelmingly ranked reducing the national deficit as the number one priority—up to 44 percent from 34 percent six months ago—followed by reducing tax and regulatory burdens and reining in health care costs. There was a significant increase among small business owners who cited regulatory burdens as a major challenge for their business, up from 31 percent six months ago to 40 percent now.

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