A year ago the quarterly index was zero, meaning owners were neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the current and future small-business operating environment, Gallup said Tuesday.
The future expectations element of the index, which is owners' ratings of their businesses' expectations for the next 12 months, dropped to 18 in July from 24 in April, the lowest level this year, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said.
The index indicated the percentage of owners expecting their financial situation to be very or somewhat good over the next 12 months fell from 66 percent in April to 59 percent in July.
The percentage of owners expecting revenues to increase decreased from 49 percent in April to 43 percent in July.
The percentage of owners expecting their company cash flows over the next year to be poor rose to 23 percent in July from 18 percent in April.
Owners' ratings of their overall operating conditions were neutral during July, with the present situation element of the index at minus 1, indicating small-business owners are not positive about their current operating environment.
The nationwide quarterly survey was conducted July 9-13 with 600 small-business owners. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.