The outlook for small businesses in the construction and contracting sector has improved since the beginning of the year, the Small Business Research Board reported Monday.

The group's small-business confidence index for the construction and contracting sector rose to 48 in the April-June quarter, up 4.6 points from the opening quarter. The gains reflecting an increase in hiring plans for the year ahead, the report found.

At the same time, confidence levels in the manufacturing and food industries remained steady at 40.33, a slight increase over the previous quarter, the group said.

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