Wells Fargo & Co. is seeing the trend firsthand. "More people are paying down their lines of credit than are drawing down on them," says Mark Bernstein, head of the bank's small business division.
The Great Recession is still fresh in the minds of many small business owners. "Who would expect small business people not to be a little bit cautious after this experience?" Bernstein says.
But Angelo Santinelli, a management consultant and adjunct lecturer in entrepreneurship at Babson College, believes small business owners are focused on what's going on in their own companies rather than on economic reports. He says manufacturers aren't stepping up their production because they're concerned that without strong sales they'll be stuck with inventory and they'll lose money.
"No one feels comfortable that they're going to make their numbers," Santinelli says. "Every sales person is working harder than ever before."
Joyce Rosenberg can be reached at http://twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg
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