Many small businesses in New Jersey mirror growing pessimism about next year, sharing that uncertainty with small businesses nationwide.

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The National Federation of Independent Business reports their optimism index dipped slightly in September.

The decline is a sign that the U.S. economy is taking a hit from uncertainty over the possibility of tax hikes and government spending cuts next year, said William Dunkelberg, chief economist at the NFIB.

"Owners are in maintenance mode -- spending only where necessary and not hiring, expanding or ordering more inventories until the future becomes more certain," Dunkelberg explained.

Laurie Ehlbeck is Director of the Federation of Independent Business/New Jersey. She says small companies here are also worried. She says they are concerned about the end of the tax cuts and many regulatory matters.

Bush-era tax cuts go away at year's end, and that will hit the middle class and others hard. Also federal spending cuts are worrying independent companies. Ehlbeck says, "They feel that things are stalled. Everybody's just waiting..I think they are waiting down in D-C, and things are not happening in the state as fast as people would like."

She says most will not hire till the uncertainty is cleared up.

The survey did have some bright spots. The number of owners who believe this is a good time to expand their companies rose three percentage points. And the number of owners, who expect business conditions to improve in six months, gained 4 points.