LA County Business Outlook: Bracing for Tax Attacks, BizFed Survey Finds

LA County Businesses More Optimistic on Economy, But Uncertainty on Taxes, Fees, New Regulations Means Little Hiring, Investment, according to a new survey released today by LA County Business Federation.
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April 26, 2012 - PRLog -- LA County business owners and executives are more optimistic about the economy this year, but increasingly entrenched concerns over rising taxes and fees and growing government regulations have stalled plans for significant expansion and investment – including new hiring, according to a new survey by the Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed).

The latest BizFed annual BizPOLL survey of members finds that 61% believe business conditions this year will be better than last – up slightly from the same time last year, and up significantly from late last year. But when it comes to hiring new workers, the survey found that just 34% plan to grow their workforce this year – up only slightly from 31% who felt that way the same time last year. And just 33% said they plan to invest in durable goods this year.

The results come as - for the second year in a row - taxes and fees and government regulation top the BizFed survey as members’ highest-priority concerns.

“Business owners desperately need certainty from Federal, State, and local governments; including certainty that they won’t continue to be saddled with unending, new, and ever-increasing fees, tax attacks, and red-tape, just to fund the government’s inability to be fiscally responsible,” said John Kelsall, BizFed Chair and President & CEO, Greater Lakewood Chamber of Commerce. “Today, businesses are increasingly entrenched and hesitant to risk expansion, as a protective maneuver against uncertainty - so much so that it’s now impacting investment in our region and creation of new jobs.”

“Until electeds at all levels understand they cannot simply hammer business with more fees and taxes to make up for their own overspending, business has to remain cautious about the future,” said David Fleming, BizFed Founding Chair. “The state is nearly broke. LA City is almost broke and the federal government is adding $3 million each minute of every hour of every day to our federal debt. Is it any wonder that business is nervous?”

One bright spot in the survey: Only one-in-six businesses are forecasting layoffs this year – down from one-in-three just a year ago.

Also notable among the results is LA County business owners’ continued priority-ranking of improving and reforming K-12 education in the state. Business owners have consistently ranked education reform among the Top 10 priority issues since the annual BizPOLL was launched five years ago.

“This survey finding really hit us in the face,” said Tracy Rafter, BizFed CEO. “With government budget woes slicing into so many sectors these days, many issues could have topped these rankings. But business owners are clearly signaling that ensuring a quality educational system is becoming increasingly urgent. It is a make-or-break critical component that must be delved into further because our economic growth and survival is at very real risk.”

The BizFed Survey Found:
Top 5 Priority Issues:   No. 1:   Taxes and Fees
         No. 2:   Government Regulations/Compliance
         No. 3   State and Local Budgets
         No. 4   Legislative Gridlock (State and/or Federal)
         No. 5:   Education

Business Outlook:    61% of business owners and executives say their 2012 outlook is better than 2011
         30% believe the business outlook for 2012 will be flat (equal to 2011)
         Just 9% believe the business outlook will be lower than 2011

Workforce Outlook:   34% planning for workforce growth (an increase from 31% last year)
         48% forecast flat workforce growth (an increase from 41% early last year)
         16% planning workforce reductions (a reduction from 20%)

The BizPOLL survey findings generally mirror several national and statewide economic outlook surveys of business owners and executives, but mark one of the first looks specifically at LA County businesses and how their outlook has changed compared to early last year.

BizFed believes this year’s survey results are a clarion call to electeds at all levels to work cooperatively, across party lines, to advance reforms, coupled with responsible fiscal policies and programs that recognize business as a critical cornerstone for the state’s economic recovery.

“This is where the rubber-meets-the-road. These results are a clear indication that ‘optimism’ about the future is no longer simply enough,” said Fleming. “Business has been stung so often by continually rising taxes and fees, new regulations, and legislative gridlock that hamstrings progress, that now concrete action must be taken.”

BizFed member organizations across LA County are available for interviews; see attached list of BizFed members. In addition, these BizFed members are available immediately for interviews:
•   David Fleming, BizFed Founding Chair;, (213)891-7902
•   John Kelsall, Greater Lakewood Chamber; BizFed Chair-Elect,, (562)531-9733
•   Tracy Rafter, BizFed CEO,, (818)429-0462

Methodology: Online survey conducted Jan. 30, 2012 through Feb. 29, 2012 and distributed throughout BizFed membership and, by extension, their member networks. Survey respondents totaled 421, representing a 93% participation rate among BizFed’s 98 member organizations at the time and a 59% increase from a similar poll a year ago. Respondents represent a cross-section of BizFed members and reflect a balanced representation of LA County businesses based on employment size, industry, and location. Survey developed by Employers Group’s Research Department, the BizFed Polling/Research Committee, and the BizFed Board of Directors. Employers Group is a California-based association of employers.
Source:LA County Business Federation
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