While the COVID vaccine becomes more available and more states relax some of their onerous restrictions on business operations, both business and consumer confidence continue to play on the metaphorical see-saw. A survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found the outlook of small business owners improving slightly with 15% of its respondents reporting they would have to close if economic conditions don’t improve soon. That number is down from 25% just two months ago. At the same time however, NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index dropped again in January – down an additional 0.9 points to 95, the 4th consecutive monthly drop as the index stood at 104 in September. That said, 55% of overall respondents to a survey by the small-business network, Alignable, reported they will be out of cash reserves by the end of the first quarter this month, while 62% of women owned businesses will be out of cash by then and a full two-thirds of minority owned businesses. On the consumer side, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose 2.4 points in February to 91.3 for the second consecutive monthly improvement. Amidst these sorts of ups and downs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that average hourly earnings remained unchanged from December 2020 to January 2021, resulting from an increase of 0.2 percent in average hourly earnings offset by an increase of 0.3 percent in the Consumer Price Index.