April 24, 2007 -- The nation's small-business owners are finding it increasingly difficult to access capital, a recent survey found.

Out of 500 small and midsize companies surveyed nationwide, 33 percent said it was becoming more difficult to obtain financing, compared to just 24 percent in a similar poll seven years ago, accord to the National Small Business Association, a Washington-based lobby.

Without adequate access to capital, business owners reported difficulty growing their businesses and hiring more employees, the survey found. Many smaller employers said they used credit cards to fund operations, with many carrying a balance of more than $10,000 from month to month.

The availability of capital ranked third among owners' most pressing concerns, after health-care costs and a general unease over the economy.

The group called the results a wake-up call for policymakers in Washington.

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