NEW YORK — The majority of your fellow small-business operators believe the economy is getting worse, although the numbers have improved a bit since April, according to a national random survey of small-business owners with less than five employees commissioned by the Discover Business Card.Seventy-one percent of small-business owners say the U.S. economy is getting worse, while 28% said that economic conditions were improving for their businesses. In April, 76% percent of operators believed the economy was getting worse. One-half of respondents rated the economy as “poor,” down from 55% in April. The negative numbers reflect a variety of U.S. conditions, including rising energy costs.In addition, The Discover’s Small Business Watch Index rose to 81.8% in May from 76.1% in April. The Discover Small Business Watch is a monthly index measuring the relative economic confidence of U.S. small-business owners.Seventy-seven percent of respondents expect no change in hiring practices, while 12% plan to hire more workers over the course of the next few months. Nine percent expect to lay off some workers in that same time period.Thirty-nine percent of respondents experienced cash-flow problems during the last 90 days, down from 44% in April and 47% in March.