Small businesses are optimistic about their business revenue projections, according to a new survey, with 45 percent expecting revenue growth versus 17 percent expecting revenue declines.

The survey, by Employers Holdings, a provider of workers compensation insurance, found that 44 percent of small businesses believe the U.S. economy will improve in 2012, compared to 46 percent in 2011.

While 58 percent of small business decision-makers report business-related worries keep them up at night, the Employers Small Business Opinion Poll found the 2012 figure to be significantly improved compared to results from a similar survey a year ago. This year, 40 percent of the 500 small business owners who were polled responded that they don't worry about their businesses, versus 30 percent who didn't experience sleep-depriving worries in 2011.

The latest poll also reveals that today's small business worries are more focused on issues related to growing their businesses (20 percent) rather than variables that are more out of their control like the economy.

The survey found that 23 percent of small business owners surveyed said they are currently at pre-recession revenue levels. Twenty-one percent said they are currently hiring versus just 15 percent a year ago, and 21 percent of the survey respondents said they plan to hire additional part-time or seasonal workers for the summer

The restaurant industry segment reported the strongest optimism and expectation for growth in the latest Employers Small Business Opinion Poll, with 61 percent expecting the U.S. economy to improve in 2012 and 61 percent saying they expect their businesses to grow over 2011 levels. The restaurant industry also leads the way in job creation plans among small businesses, with 39 percent saying they are currently hiring and 42 percent indicating they plan to hire additional workers for the summer season.

Other industries feeling more bullish about their ability to grow revenue in 2012 include the communication industry (53 percent), manufacturing (52 percent) and financial services (51 percent).

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