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January 9, 2013

Business leaders pessimistic about 2013

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Business leaders are not very optimistic about the economy in 2013, according to First Niagara’s Sixth Annual Survey of Upstate New York Business Leaders.

Released Tuesday, the survey said more private sector business leaders expect economic conditions to worsen in 2013 than those who predict they will get better. And many are cautious in their expectations for revenues, profits and new job hires in the coming year.

Just over 20 percent of Buffalo Niagara business leaders felt current business conditions were better at the end of 2012 than six months earlier. That’s down from 24 percent a year ago. Another 43 percent said conditions were about the same, while 36 percent said they were worse, up from 34 percent a year ago.

As for the future, 28 percent expect business conditions to improve this year, but that’s down from 33 percent last year. Thirty-two percent project conditions will stay the same, down from 40 percent, while 40 percent expect worsening conditions, up from 27 percent. More business executives expect their own revenues and workforces to increase rather than decrease this year, but more also expect lower profits.

“It appears many Buffalo Niagara business executives, like those throughout upstate New York, are experiencing lower levels of confidence about the economic outlook for 2013 as they continue to hold out for a more vibrant economy,” said Buford Sears, Western New York market executive for First Niagara Bank. “With that in mind, it is important for these executives and their companies to stay focused and positioned to take advantage of any predicted upswings in consumer confidence and spending when they come.”

According to the summary by Donald Levy, the director of Siena College Research Institute, nearly 80 percent of CEOs cite health care costs as a challenging concern while 70 percent worry about governmental regulation and 68 percent note the negative impact of taxation.

Adverse economic conditions continues to concern two-thirds of New York’s CEOs. Forty percent of CEO’s call on the Governor and Legislature to cut spending as their top focus. While CEO’s continue to lack confidence in the ability of New York’s government to improve business conditions, their faith in New York’s government has increased, Levy said.

But their confidence in the federal government remains extremely low. CEO’s strongly support domestic energy development, a balanced budget amendment, reducing corporate income tax rates, repealing the health care legislation and capping annual increases in federal regulatory spending at $0.

The survey was taken by 1,142 corporate leaders from a variety of industries in New York.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.

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