According to a Wall Street Journal article, after four consecutive gains, the National Federation of Independent Business index of small-business optimism fell back in December. The NFIB’s index slipped 0.6 point to 92.6 last month.

“Apparently, the “management change” in Washington and marginally better retail-sales numbers weren’t enough to pump up spirits at the New Year celebrations,” the NFIB said.

A big drag came from the subindex of expected business conditions in six months. It fell seven percentage points to 9%. In addition, the subindex on earnings trends fell four points to -34%.

Even so, small-business owners expect an improvement in demand, with the expected sales index up two percentage points to 8%.

Hiring also made gains. The December employment subindex increased two points to 6%. For those firms that are hiring, the subindex covering job openings that are hard to fill rose four points to 13%.

“The reduction in the payroll tax will add some impetus to hiring as most of that addition to take-home pay will be spent,” the report said.