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Survey: Business owners get chilly on the economy

The PNC Bank Fall Economic Outlook report shows some holes in the economy.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. November 2, 2018
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Business owners and executives statewide remain optimistic about the economy and their company, according to the PNC Bank Fall Economic Outlook report, but their level of cheeriness has chilled somewhat since the spring.

Overall, 36% of survey respondents in the fall survey feel positive about the national economy — down from 45% in the spring. That’s up, at least, from 30% in the fall 2017 survey, reports PNC, which surveyed small- and middle-market business owners and executives.

Even more alarming: The percentage of business owners who are optimistic about their own companies dropped below 50%, to 46% in the fall 2018 survey. That’s down from 58% in spring 2018 and 50% in fall 2017, the report shows. Another alarming nugget: the percentage of respondents outright pessimistic on the economy, both nationally and locally, are at three-time survey peaks, at 17% and 11%, respectively. (Respondents can answer optimistic, moderately optimistic or pessimistic.)

Other nuggets from the survey include:

• Nearly six out of 10 respondents project they will have increased profits, down from 64% in the spring survey.

• In response to the tightening labor market, 82% of the executives report already taking actions to retain or attract employees, including bonuses and flexible work arrangements;

• Four out of 10 respondents, 41%, support proposed tariffs, while 31% are against them;  

• Three-fourths, 75%, of respondents have not made, or do not expect to make, changes to their businesses as a result of tax reform. That’s up from 61% in spring 2018.



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