With optimism among small business owners rising to a near-record level across the US, the news is also good in Raleigh and North Carolina.

Raleigh ranks ninth nationally among 57 cities for small business friendliness, says a new survey from Thumbtack, a website that matches people who have projects they needed done with professionals to complete them.

Thumbtack’s survey of states shows North Carolina at 13th, up 23 spots from 2017.

Survey respondents gave Raleigh an “A” compared to “B” a year ago. The City of Oaks didn’t crack the top 10 last year.

The state received an “A-,” up from a “C+” in 2017.

The better grades came as the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index for July came with 0.1 of a point of matching the record high of the 45-year index – 108 in July 1983.

With unemployment continuing to drop nationally and after 4.1 percent growth in the Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter, small business owners are demonstrating their optimism by stepping up plans to add jobs. Some 23 percent of businesses are planning to expand headcount, up three percentage points from June. And 37 percent of business owners say they have jobs that can’t be filled – one point higher than the previous month.

The NFIB results reflect findings from recent surveys of business in general from Duke University’s CFO survey and a survey from the American Institute of CPAs.

Business owners overall reported continuing good news about profits and plans to add inventory. However, they also said they face continuing pressure to increase wages and to raise prices.

“Small business owners are leading this economy and expressing optimism rivaling the highest levels in history,” said NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan in a statement. “Expansion continues to be a priority for small businesses who show no signs of slowing as they anticipate more sales and better business conditions.”

The NFIB survey does not break down data by state.

The Thumbtack survey includes feedback from 7,500 small business owners with cities and states being scored across eight different metrics.

Raleigh’s grade improved thanks to better results for ease of starting a business, regulations, tax code, and licensing.

Results fell for government websites (the only “F”) and training/assistance programs (a “D”), down from an “A” and “B+” respectively.

North Carolina’s grades improved from regulation, employment and licensing but fell for ease of hiring, tax code, training and assistant programs, and government websites.

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