Daily News: April 11, 2012

Survey: Business Leaders Growing Optimistic About Economy


Expectations for the U.S. economy are improving, with 49% of the participants in the 2012 Chase Middle Market Business Leaders Outlook saying they are optimistic about the nation’s economic prospects in the year ahead. The results are 10% higher than last year’s survey, when 39% of respondents said they were optimistic about the country’s economic picture.

“The mood out there has shifted. Business leaders are more optimistic about the economic outlook than they were a year ago,” said Doug Petno, CEO of Chase Commercial Banking. “And they’re even more optimistic when it comes to their own company’s future.”

Almost four out of five business leaders (79%) are optimistic about their own company’s performance in 2012. Growing employment is a crucial consideration of any economic recovery, and 55% of business leaders surveyed said they expect to grow employment in 2012. Only 4% said they expect to trim payrolls.

“If a business owner is optimistic about the future, he or she is thinking of hiring. And you can see that clearly in this survey,” said Chase economist Jim Glassman. “Hiring is a critical part of the mix.”

Wages are increasing as well; 63% project at least a modest increase in their workers’ wages in 2012.

Chase Commercial Banking surveyed senior financial decision makers at 1,000 U.S. companies with revenues ranging between $10 million and $500 million annually. This is the second year Chase has surveyed Commercial Banking clients and prospects to gauge their outlook on the economy and expectations for the year ahead.

Survey participants talked about their own businesses:

  • 76% expect to achieve revenue growth and 67% expect higher profits in next 12 months.

  • 75% anticipate a need for financing in 2012, specifically for capital equipment, working capital, acquisitions, facilities and software.

  • Almost three-quarters of all respondents anticipate their overseas sales will increase and they will be operating in more countries in the next five years.

  • While 49% are optimistic about the national economy, 59% expressed confidence in their local economy.

  • The current regulatory environment remains a concern, with 66% saying it makes it more difficult to add workers. That’s flat compared to 2011.