Atlanta small business owners are more optimistic about their near-term prospects than their peers nationwide, a new survey suggests, with a larger percentage anticipating increased hiring, sales and profits.
The survey, conducted by PNC Financial Services Group, showed 34 percent of small businesses in Atlanta expect to increase employment in the next six months, compared to 28 percent of small business owners nationally who plan to boost hiring.
In Atlanta, 55 percent expect higher profits, compared to 43 percent countrywide, while 63 percent here foresee higher sales in the next six months versus 58 percent nationwide.
Four in five business owners cited an improved sales outlook or business expansion plans as the main reasons to increase payroll.
PNC economist Mekael Teshome said Atlanta small business owners are more optimistic about their local economy than the national economy.
"At the local level, the improvement is real and they're seeing that," he said.
The survey found small business owners nationally optimistic, too, if not as much as in Atlanta. Their outlook for sales and hiring are the highest they've been since the fall of 2007 and profit expectations are the best they've been since spring of 2008. Optimism about the economy's prospects is at its highest point since the fall of 2007.
A survey by the National Federation of Businesses released this week found that small business owner optimism fell in March after six months of gains. Planned hiring and expected sales growth both fell.
Teshome said the NFIB findings are "not inconsistent" with PNC's, in part because the surveys cover different time periods.
State Department of Transportation road crews were out around daybreak Wednesday treating icy patches on numerous roads across metro Atlanta and north Georgia as temperatures dropped well below the freezing mark.