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Survey: Carolinas Regional Business Leaders Cautiously Optimistic
A Marketplace Staffing regional economic survey of 206 business leaders indicates growing confidence, increasing optimism and plans to increase hiring, with 67.9% voicing confidence that the recession is waning and the economy slowly strengthening.
Marketplace Staffing, one of the Upstate’s largest and fastest-growing staffing and human capital solutions firms, surveyed hundreds of Upstate business leaders and consultants electronically, with 206 completed responses submitted. Executives and employees of more than 180 organizations participated in the 2012 Upstate & National Economic Outlook Survey, along with independent consultants, advisors and retired business leaders. Over 30 industries were represented, with strongest participation from manufacturing, professional services, real estate, healthcare, financial services and non-profits. Median revenue range for organizations was slightly under $9 million.
In addition to 67.9% of respondents stating that they believe the economy is slowly strengthening, 51.4% said they were “optimistic for the outlook of the region’s and nation’s economies”, while only 21.4% held a pessimistic outlook. Respondents offering additional comments expressed far-ranging opinions linked to the upcoming Fall elections and their impact on the economy. Noted one participant, “I’m optimistic if the current President is voted out, pessimistic if he is not…” while a second offered “We’re finally making strides; the last thing we need to do now is make a change.”
When asked to identify the action that would most benefit the recovery of the economy, 32.1% called for a change in the Democratic-led administration, 17.1% called on the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low to encourage growth, and 12.9% called on Congress to repeal healthcare reform.
Asked to note indicators that have had the greatest impact on the economy in the last 24 months, survey participants agreed that the housing slowdown (94.2%) had either an extreme impact or significant impact on the economy. Other indicators noted as strong contributors to the recessionary environment included rising unemployment (87.5% agreed), the credit crunch (81.2%), rising national debt (78.2%), and rising fuel and energy prices (76.7%).
On the employment front, 26.6% expect to increase staffing in their organizations during 2012 by an average of 5%, while 67.6% expect their employee base to remain flat. Noted one participant, “I hope to add staff because it would help us drive revenues, but business demand has been lagging for two years.”
Business leaders expect revenues to rise more significantly in 2012, driven by improved customer demand, increasing productivity as well as growing employee bases. Of respondents, 41.6% expect revenues to increase more than 6% this year, and 75.9% expect at least some revenue growth. One in six businesses (16.6%) expect revenue increases of 11% or greater in 2012.
Finally, when asked to identify the most significant challenges facing their organization today, respondents offered a plethora of answers, with 3 emerging as most critical: Low customer demand (45.1%), rising healthcare costs (37.6%, and increasing employee salary and benefit costs (30.1%).
Founded in 1996, Marketplace Staffing provides high quality, value-added staffing services and solutions to leading companies across the Southeast. A certified minority business enterprise (MBE), Marketplace has become one of the leading independent staffing providers in the entire country by providing world-class, comprehensive staffing and productivity solutions. The organization provides a blue–chip client list with contract and outsourcing services, temporary staffing, temp-to-hire associates, executive recruiting and placement, and payroll and support services. Marketplace is a prior honoree as one of South Carolina’s Fastest-Growing Companies by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
For additional information on the 2012 Upstate & National Economic Outlook Survey, or on Marketplace Staffing, contact Ray Lattimore at 864.286.3900 or visit them at www.marketplacestaffing.com.
2012 Upstate & National Economic Outlook Survey - Highlights
206 completed responses
183 organizations plus independent consultants, advisors and retired business leaders
33 industries led by manufacturing, professional services, real estate, healthcare, financial services, non-profits
Median revenue range -- $8.8 million; 15 over $50 million revenues
Outlook for Regional/National Economy
67.9% improving slowly
27.9% in a recession with no apparent improvement
Outlook for Regional/National Economy Over Next 2 Years
51.4% optimistic or very optimistic
21.4% pessimistic or very pessimistic
Initiatives to Best Help Economy Recover
32.1% replace the current Democratic administration with a Republican administration
17.1% Fed should keep interest rates low to encourage growth
12.9% Congress should repeal healthcare reform
Greatest Impact on Economy Over Last 2 Years
94.2% the housing slowdown
87.5% rising unemployment
81.2% the credit crisis
78.2% rising national debt
Outlook for Your Organization’
26.6% expect to increase staff
67.6% remain stable/no change
5.8% reduce employment
19.4% increase employee base by 1-5%
8.6% increase by 6% or more
Revenue Outlook for Your Organization
75.9% expect to increase revenues somewhat
41.6% expect to increase 6% or more
16.1% expect to increase more than 11%
Most Significant Challenges Facing Your Organization in 2012
45.1% low customer demand
37.6% rising healthcare costs
30.1% increasing salary and benefit costs
24.1% increasing fuel costs
22.6% tightened credit/lowered access to capital