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Chamber Report: Optimism Among San Diego's Business Owners Low

Optimism among businesses owners around San Diego County is the lowest since monthly surveys began more than two years ago, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce reported Tuesday.

The chamber's Business Outlook Index sank to 17 in October, the lowest since it was started in April 2013. That's well off this year's high of 28.1, recorded in March.

The index is comprised of four self-reported assessments regarding the next three months — will a respondent's business increase or decrease its number of employees, experience an increase or a decrease in revenue, increase or decrease the number of hours its employees work, and experience an improvement or a worsening of business conditions.

The report, sponsored by Silvergate Bank, found that retailers were an exception, as most expected higher revenues from holiday sales.

"While the index bounced back fairly well from the previous low in July 2014, this is the fourth straight month in which the BOI has been below its historical average of 26.2. However, it's great to hear that the retail sector is looking for a robust holiday season, which could have an overall positive impact on the outlook later on this year," said Dino D'Auria, the bank's executive vice president and chief banking officer.

Among the findings, 41 percent of the 202 chamber members surveyed felt revenues would increase in the upcoming months, compared to about half in September. About 40 percent felt that conditions would improve for their industry, compared to 48 percent in the previous study.

The survey also found that business favored government action on climate change that balanced environmental and economic concerns.