Economic confidence among America’s small-business owners was steady in December as fewer of them believe the U.S. economy is getting worse compared to November, according to a new survey.

More small-business owners see conditions for their own businesses getting better in the next six months, according to the Discover Small Business Watch, whose index improved slightly in December to 77.0 from 76.5 in November.

In December, the number of small-business owners who said they think the economy is getting worse dipped to 49 percent from 53 percent in November, while 24 percent of the 750 small-business owners surveyed by Discover see the economy staying the same, up from 16 percent in November. Twenty-five percent see the economy getting better, down from 28 percent in November; and 2 percent are not sure.

Twenty-two percent of those surveyed said they see conditions for their own businesses getting better in the next six months, an improvement from 19 percent in November. In contrast, 52 percent see conditions getting worse, 24 percent see things staying the same, and 3 percent aren’t sure.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said they have experienced cash flow issues in the past 90 days, down 1 percentage point from last month; 45 percent of owners have not experienced cash flow issues, and 4 percent aren't sure.

Seventy-four percent say the recession has reduced their retirement savings, 19 percent say the recession had no impact, and 6 percent saw their retirement savings increase.

Fifty-six percent of owners say that they make their own investment decisions, 35 percent use a financial planner or other investment professional, and 9 percent are not sure. When asked if they have financial planning assistance through a spouse's employer, 84 percent of owners say they do not, 13 percent say they do, and 4 percent are not sure.


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