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Business and Industry Association RKM Research and Communications
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Survey: Business confidence steady for 2012
Business owners expect slow economy to continue in 2012, but don’t perceive conditions worsening; employment will likely remain flat.
CONCORD, N.H. – Nov. 29, 2011 – Data from the recently completed 2012 New Hampshire Business Outlook Survey show that business owners are cautious but optimistic about the economy in 2012, expecting the relatively slow growth rate to continue while not expecting conditions to worsen in the coming year. However, they expect current employment levels to remain the same.
Sponsored by the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire and Portsmouth-based RKM Research and Communications, the eighth annual business outlook survey measured business confidence among a stratified random sample of 300 New Hampshire businesses. RKM polled 100 businesses with less than 10 employees and 200 with 10 or more employees, Oct. 20–28.
The survey assessed business confidence using four indexes to predict future outcomes – economic conditions, employment, revenue and capital expenditures – and benchmarked the index scores against survey results from previous years. The 2012 survey shows:
Thirty-one (31) percent of businesses expect economic conditions to get better in 2012, 44 percent expect them to stay the same and 21 percent expect them to get worse. Last year, 47 percent of businesses expected economic conditions to get better, 29 percent expected them to stay the same and 16 percent expected conditions to worsen.
In 2012, 14 percent of businesses expect the overall number of employees working at their company to increase, while 79 percent expect it to stay the same and 5 percent expect it to decrease. Last year, 19 percent of businesses expected the overall number of employees working at their company to increase, 73 percent expected it to stay the same and 4 percent expected it to decrease.
Forty-three (43) percent of businesses expect their annual revenue to increase in 2012, as compared to 48 percent in 2011. In 2012, 32 percent expect revenue to stay the same and 19 percent expect it to decrease. Last year, 27 percent expected revenue to stay the same and 18 percent expected it to decrease.
Twenty-six (26) percent of businesses expect their capital expenditures to increase in 2012, 60 percent expect them to remain unchanged and 14 percent expect to spend less on capital investments. Last year, 30 percent of businesses expected capital expenditures to increase, 57 percent expected them to stay the same and 9 percent expected to spend less on capital investments.
Survey respondents were also asked to identify top concerns facing their business in the coming year. Poor economic conditions again topped the list with 47 percent of business owners citing it as their top challenge for 2012. Eleven (11) percent of respondents identified the lack of demand for products and services as the second-ranked business challenge, followed by high cost of energy as number three (9 percent of respondents) and high cost of health insurance as number four (8 percent of respondents).
When asked specifically about whether certain issues were major concerns, 61 percent of business owners said the cost of health care and health insurance was a major concern; 58 percent consider the cost of energy a major concern; and 39 percent consider New Hampshire’s business taxes a major concern.
According to Jim Roche, president of the Business and Industry Association, the survey results portray an uncertain environment for most businesses. “Although business owners don’t expect the economy to worsen and may see increased revenues in 2012, they don’t anticipate adding jobs or investing in their businesses. Those activities are crucial to spurring economic growth.”
“Now, more than ever, it is critical to support business-friendly policies in our state,” continued Roche. “The private sector is the key to revitalizing New Hampshire’s economy. Lawmakers and regulators must keep New Hampshire’s cost of doing business as low as possible if we are to encourage business investment and job growth.”
To download a copy of the report, visit the Newsroom on nhbia.org and click on Business Outlook Survey.