Wells Fargo Bank says America’s small-business owners are the most optimistic they’ve been since July 2008, before the recession took hold, according to the bank’s most recent index survey it does with Gallup.

For Jan. 9-13, the index stood at 15, compared with a minus 3 in October, and two prior index ratings of zero, which indicates neither optimism nor pessimism.

Asked for their expectations about the year, the 600 surveyed business owners said they were decidedly more optimistic than in recent surveys.

“January’s increase in optimism signals that small-business owners are seeing a brighter future,” said Doug Case, Wells Fargo’s small-business segment manager. “While this economy still presents challenges for many business owners, we are encouraged by expectations for improved revenues, financial situation, and cash flow, which have the potential to drive job growth.”

The survey found that 49 percent expect their revenue to rise, up from 37 percent in the fourth quarter. Sixty-three percent said their company’s financial situation will be very or somewhat good in the next 12 months, up from 55 percent who stated that in the fourth quarter.

In terms of hiring, 22 percent said they expect the number of jobs to increase, while 8 percent said they expect jobs at their firms to decrease.

More than half, or 52 percent, said they hired employees in the past 12 months, compared to 51 percent in the November 2010 survey.

In cash flow, 53 percent expect it to be good or somewhat good, up from 48 percent who stated that in the fourth quarter. And in terms of credit, 27 percent expect credit to be easy or somewhat easy to obtain, up from 22 percent in the fourth quarter.

— Mike Allen