Small business owners are more optimistic than any time in the eight-year-long economic recovery from the Great Recession, according to the annual U.S. Bank Small Business Annual Survey.

"For most owners, the recession is long over and now they’re making plans to expand,”John Elmore, vice chairman of consumer and business banking at USB, said in a prepared statement.

They report sustained revenue growth, plans for capital investment and modest hiring. More than 60 percent report some difficulty finding qualified employees.

The survey of 3,200 small business owners within U.S. Bank’s 25-state national footprint was conducted in January and February 2017 among owners who report revenue of $10 million or less, the vast majority of U.S. businesses.

Eighty percent of those surveyed describe their own business as strong, another historical high for the eight-year survey. In addition, 38 percent report higher revenues, more than at any time since 2009.

Nearly 20 percent  of small business owners feel the economy is expanding, up from 9 percent a year ago. Four out of 10 owners said they plan to make a capital expenditure to expand their business in the next year. One fourth also expect to increase their staff, despite the challenge of finding skilled workers.

Ninety-three percent say they’re satisfied with the balance between their work and personal lives. Fewer (85 percent) are satisfied with their wealth and savings derived from their small business. Nearly 100 percent of owners are satisfied with how their business improves the lives of others.

USB said it is the nation’s third-largest issuer of U.S. Small Business Administration-insured loans.

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