The Siena College Research Institute has released its 13th annual New York Business Leader survey.
The poll samples state and federal business climates. CEOs surveyed say while their confidence is lower than last year, more than half don't see a recession on the horizon. Siena College Research Institute Director Don Levy: "They feel as though it's getting progressively more difficult for these CEOs who work in manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, various service industries, technology, it's getting just more and more difficult for them to be profitable. When we asked them a simple question, 'are things better off in the New York state economy today than they were six months ago, the same, or worse,’ only 17% - that's down from close to 30% a year ago, say that things are improving."
Two-thirds of upstate CEOs identify health care costs as a challenge. "They see costs continuing to go up, and as yet they haven't seen a solution. When we asked them a question specific to New York state, 'will you support or oppose a single-payer system,’ overwhelmingly, 3 to 1 opposed single-payer."
Only 6 percent of business leaders say the state is doing an excellent or good job of creating a business climate in which companies like theirs will succeed. They tell Siena they're challenged by taxes, the cost of health care and government regulation.
Fifty-nine percent rate their local area as only fair or poor on workforce suitability. "It's been six years since we asked this whole battery of questions in which CEOs assess the suitability and job readiness of applicants, but it is down from where it's been. You know, right now in the Capital Region, one third of all CEOs 34%, say that they plan to hire people this year. They are looking for people. You know, that's a strong figure. But when we asked about how suitable the workforce is, nearly 60% say that the grade of the workforce suitability is no better than fair or poor, and only 17%. Here in the Capital Region, fewer than one in five, say that, yes, there's an ample supply of job applicants, workforce, who are ready to step in and contribute day one. It actually gets a little bit more suspect in that we asked them about things like the people that are coming in to get a job, do they have the requisite technical skills, do they have the requisite verbal skills, what about their work ethic? And while a little bit more than a third say that the workforce has the requisite technical skills. When you get to things like work ethic that's less than 30% of CEOs who give the job applicants they're seeing a great of excellent or good."
And when it comes to CEOs’ expectations for 2020… "They believe that the economy is going to be tougher. They do not think that we're moving into a recession, but they're going to be hiring if they can. They believe that revenues will be up, they believe that profits will be relatively constant. And they're going to focus on doing the business of business, you know, expanding the demand for their product and services, and seeking to overcome what they see as the problems that are generated through state government. So business will take place. It will be a good year for some. When we analyze all the responses that they give us, and we characterize all the CEOs that we speak to as either optimistic, pessimistic or staying even, the single largest group say 'I'm holding my own. I'm staying even...'"
This Siena College Poll was conducted October – January 2019 by mail and internet interviews with 667 Business Leaders from across Upstate including the Capital Region, Central New York, the Finger Lakes region, the Mid-Hudson region, the Mohawk Valley/Southern Tier region, Westchester and Western New York. Sponsorship for the 2019 Upstate Business Leader Survey was provided by The Business Council of New York State. The study is released in conjunction with the following media partners: Capital Region: The Albany Times Union; Buffalo: Buffalo Business First; Rochester: Rochester Business Journal; Syracuse: Business Journal News Network, Westchester: Westchester County Business Journal, Rockland: Rockland County Business Journal. The Siena College Research Institute, directed by Donald Levy, Ph.D., conducts political, economic, social and cultural research primarily in New York State. SCRI, an independent, non-partisan research institute, subscribes to the American Association of Public Opinion Research Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.