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updated 6/2/2011 4:17:37 AM ET 2011-06-02T08:17:37

After years of painful losses and gut-wrenching cutbacks, many small businesses are now enjoying a much-deserved moment in the sun.

Across the country, small businesses are reporting a greater number of accepted loan applications. They're hiring added workers, bankruptcy filings are down, and their confidence in the economy has gained ground in the past year.

Still, inflation and consumer confidence remain significant and growing concerns. Further, access to capital is still restricted for many.

"Small businesses are weathering the storm, as they always do," says Joseph Johnson chief economist at the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy. "But there is room for improvement."

Here are five indicators that showcase the vitality of the nation's small companies:


 

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