LITTLE CHANGE IN BORROWING: Small businesses borrowed at a steady pace in July, according to Thomson Reuters and PayNet. The two companies' Small Business Lending Index registered at 145.2, down slightly from an upwardly revised 146.4 in June. The reading was up 13 percent from a year earlier and at its second-highest level since the index was launched in 2005. The index is compiled from PayNet's database; the company issues credit ratings on small businesses.
WHAT IT MEANS: The lending index has fluctuated this year, but its increase over year-earlier levels shows the companies tracked by PayNet are interested in borrowing for expansion. That's a sign owners are more confident about their revenue going forward. The index tracks banks loans and equipment leases.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: While business owners are more optimistic and willing to take risks like buying and leasing property, many are still hesitant to hire. Reports out this week show more muted hiring in August than during the first half of this year. Owners have said they won't hire unless their revenue justifies taking on more workers, and many are waiting for more significant growth before they'll add staffers.