Small business owners are giving higher ratings to the economy this month, according to a new survey.

Small business confidence jumped 9.4 points from March to April, bringing the measure of small business confidence back to where it was at the start of the year, according to the Discover Small Business Watch. The index rose to 85.1, up from 75.7. A similar jump occurred last year when the index gained 10.3 points from March to April.

“Small business owners are more positive this month about where the current economy stands and where it appears to be heading,” said Ryan Scully, director of Discover’s business credit card, who commissions the monthly survey. “The percentage of owners who rate the economy good or excellent is the highest it has been since August 2008 — just weeks before the collapse of the financial markets.”

The April results showed a surge in the number of small business owners who say economic conditions for their own businesses are getting better: 30 percent of them say the climate will improve in the next six months, compared to only 20 percent in March. Of the remaining respondents; 48 percent say the climate is getting worse, but that number is down from 53 percent in March.

When asked about their intentions to invest in their businesses, 23 percent say they would increase spending, up from 18 percent in March, while 43 percent still plan to decrease spending, which is down from 52 percent in March; 31 percent say they will make no changes.

Fewer owners said their businesses encountered temporary cash flow issues in the past 90 days that caused them to hold off on paying some bills: 51 percent said they did not experience cash flow issues in April, compared with 47 percent in March. Those owners who had cash flow issues dropped from 46 percent in March to 45 percent in April. 

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