The National Federation of Independent Business said its index of small-business optimism dropped 5.6 points last month to 87.5. The index was compiled from a survey of 733 NFIB members taken throughout November.
NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg said the biggest drag on the index was owners' expectation that business conditions will be worse six months from now. The number of owners expecting better times ahead fell 37 points. Nearly half the owners surveyed are now pessimistic about the future.
Nearly a quarter of the owners said poor sales were their biggest problem.
Dunkelberg said owners in the states hit by Sandy were slightly more pessimistic than in the rest of the country. A greater number of owners in storm-battered states said they planned to cut their payrolls
-- not surprising considering that many businesses hit hard by the Oct. 29 storm are still unable to open.
Dunkelberg said the survey points to the election results as the biggest factor in owners' darker mood.