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Small business owners are reporting record-high levels of confidence about their businesses and finances, MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index indicates.

By the numbers: The Q4 index scored confidence at 71.3, a 0.6-point increase from the previous quarter. More than 71% of the 1,000 small business owners in the survey said they have a "strong outlook" and feel optimistic about their companies and the broader business environment. Both measures are the highest the index has seen since it began in 2017, according to a Chamber of Commerce press release.

  • 59% of small business owners reported a positive outlook on their local economies, a 3% jump from the previous quarter.
  • 57% said they believe the U.S. economy is healthy, a 4-point increase since the first quarter of 2019.

What they're saying: "Although we hear media reports of many larger businesses retrenching, in most industries small businesses continue to thrive, and many indicate plans to expand, whether by increasing headcount, increasing investment in the business, or both," said Jessica Moser, senior vice president of small and specialty business at MetLife, according to the press release.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden has arrived at the White House and he will sign executive orders and other presidential actions.

47 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.