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Published: Friday, 4/1/2011 - Updated: 4 years ago

More business owners in Ohio feel optimistic


A survey of small and midsized business owners in Ohio found a small but growing number who expect to add jobs over the next six months and see profits rise as their optimism in both the state and national economic recovery broadens.

But the survey also exposed business owners' concerns about a growing threat to their bottom lines: inflation, specifically from rising energy and commodity prices.

The semiannual report from PNC Financial Services Group of Pittsburgh is part of a national survey of 1,445 owners of small and midsized firms conducted since Jan. 1. Results in Ohio are based on a survey of 151 business owners, PNC said.

Among the findings:

  • 15 percent of business owners were planning to add full-time employees during the next six months, compared to 6 percent who voiced such plans in autumn, 2010. Likewise, 5 percent planned to cut their full-time staff in the next six months, compared to 10 percent who planned to do so six months ago.
  • 86 percent of respondents expect consumer prices to rise in 2011, and 35 percent planned to raise prices for the goods and services they sell over the next several months.
  • 79 percent of business owners expect that higher energy prices will negatively impact their business.
  • 58 percent of business owners are optimistic or moderately optimistic that Ohio's economy will improve over the next six months, while 49 percent expressed similar optimism about the national economy.

"Ohio was on its way toward firmer ground [a year ago], but then experienced some backsliding in autumn as the mortgage crisis did not resolve itself," said Kurt Rankin, an economist with PNC Financial Services Group. "The spring results indicate that small and midsized business are returning to form, toward a more optimistic outlook."

Mr. Rankin said falling jobless rates in Ohio; a slow, but steady uptick in consumer spending, and a resurgence in manufacturing are helping business owners feel better about their future.

"Ohio is starting to come back more rapidly than the rest of the U.S. Job growth is returning, unemployment is falling, and consumers are spending in the U.S.," Mr. Rankin said, adding that states with heavy manufacturing bases such as Ohio were escaping the recession faster than states like Florida or California that depend heavily on construction.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.

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