The National Federation of Independent Business said the monthly Optimism Index rose 0.3 points in October to 93.1, a slight increase. But the monthly survey of the trade group's members found the percentage of owners "uncertain about whether business conditions will be better or worse in six months was at a record high of 23 percent," the group said.
The mark "eclipsed the pre-recession record of 15 percent," which was set during the Carter administration, which was in 1977-1981, the NFIB said.
The monthly survey included 2,029 responses.
The survey found 22 percent of business owners cited weak sales as a problem, making it the No. 1 problem among small business owners. The net percent of owners reporting higher sales in the past three months is negative 15 percent, the trade group's monthly report said.
Among the respondents, 11 percent reported adding an average of 2.7 workers per firm while 10 percent reduced workers by an average 2.9 workers per firm. The bulk of the respondents indicated no change in their payrolls, the NFIB said.