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Small business optimism improved through March, the National Federation of Independent Business said Tuesday, with the small business group's monthly optimism index up 2.4 points to 98.2, the first return to the average historical reading of 98 since November.

The NFIB uncertainty index meanwhile inched up to 81 from 75 in February, mainly because business owners in March were still hesitant to expand their business and increase capital expenditures. Small business growth will likely be damped by hiring bottlencecks in the coming months as employers struggle to find qualified workers, according to NFIB.

"Main Street is doing better as state and local restrictions are eased, but finding qualified labor is a critical issue for small businesses nationwide," NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg said in a statement. "Small business owners are competing with the pandemic and increased unemployment benefits that are keeping some workers out of the labor force."