In May, small-business optimism hit 96, the highest reading since Sept. 2007, prior to the recession, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
It also marks the third month in a row the measurement has risen.
However, the group warned that the number still lags measures that traditionally accompany an expansion, and similar gains haven’t panned out in this recovery period.
NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg also noted that while psychological measures are headed up, the four components most closely related to GDP and employment growth—job openings, job-creation plans, inventory, and capital-spending plans—still fell a point in May.
He warned that rising prices and energy costs have made small businesses cautious and unwilling to invest further.