San Diego small-business owners moved from being cautiously optimistic to more positive about their prospects, according to a recent survey done for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The survey of 501 business owners with fewer than 50 employees, conducted in mid-April, computed the county’s overall business outlook index then to be 28, compared with the 19.7 index score in 2010.

The index was derived from an analysis of five metrics for local businesses: revenue, spending, hiring, spending on business development, and use of credit.

The chamber report said the construction industry showed the biggest turnaround with a score of 38.9, compared with its -8.3 score two years ago.

The services sector also showed considerable improvement, moving from 15.9 to 27.4 this year. However, the auto repair and services sub-segment showed a dramatic falloff from 28.4 in 2010 to -26 in 2012.

While the survey said more owners are inclined to spend more this year, that isn’t the case with single-person businesses which have even less desire to spend than they did in 2010, the report said.

In summing up, the survey report said local businesses appear to be exhaling after a long period of holding their breaths. The common feeling is that San Diego has passed through a bad period and it’s time to get on with expansion, the chamber report said.