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Published: Monday, 12/23/2013 - Updated: 7 months ago

Ohio firms optimistic about ’14

Survey: Attitudes in Buckeye State above national average

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Bradley Campolo shakes hands with Kelsea Kiene of 3M during a University of Toledo job fair in September. More than half of Ohio businesses surveyed said they plan hirings in the first quarter. Bradley Campolo shakes hands with Kelsea Kiene of 3M during a University of Toledo job fair in September. More than half of Ohio businesses surveyed said they plan hirings in the first quarter.
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A survey of 149 businesses in Ohio indicates that 92 percent of them are convinced that the overall economy in 2014 will be as good or better than it was in 2013.

The attitudes of the Ohio companies toward the coming year are more upbeat than 260 businesses in Michigan, 1,000 in the Midwest region, and 1,740 nationwide who took part in a 2014 National Business Trends Survey conducted by the Milwaukee-based Employer Associations of America.

That is a reversal from last year, when executives or companies in the Buckeye State were less enthusiastic than those in Michigan, the Midwest, and the United States about the performance of the economy in 2013. Also, a year ago, only 81.4 percent of Ohio businesses thought the economy in 2013 would be as good or better than 2012.

Improved performance in the manufacturing sector may be a key factor in the state optimism, said Bob Bethel, director of Human Resource services for the Toledo area Employers’ Association.

“I think that is a lot of it. Manufacturing does seem to be coming back,” Mr. Bethel said. “Somewhat of a counter to that is that the economy as it is today, there is still a lot of concern with certain things — government regulation, the ability to find professional employees,” Mr. Bethel said.

In a survey question asking what was the greatest challenge to job creation, 39 percent of the Ohio respondents cited “economic conditions” as the biggest factor. Government regulation was the second most cited factor at 22 percent.

Mr. Bethel said that of 149 companies in Ohio that were surveyed, 66 were in northwest Ohio. “That is a good sign for this area that they are so optimistic,” he said.

Survey results for Ohio showed 48 percent felt the economy in 2013 was better than 2012, while 41 percent felt it was the same as 2012. For 2014, 38 percent of companies surveyed in Ohio feel it will be better than 2013 and 54 percent feel it will be as good as 2013.

According to the survey, 58 percent of Ohio respondents said they expect a slight increase in sales or revenues in 2014, and the same percentage said they will be increasing staff levels next year.

Just over half of those surveyed said they will do some hiring in the first quarter, with the same percentage saying they expect to hire in the second quarter.

Four-fifths of the businesses surveyed in Ohio said they had increased employees’ wages in 2013, and nearly three-fourths said they would be increasing wages in 2014.

However, 48 percent of Ohio respondents said they planned to shift a larger percentage of health-care costs to their employees in 2014.

Of the 260 companies surveyed in Michigan, 54 percent felt the economy in 2013 was better than 2012, and 40 percent felt it was the same as 2012. For 2014, 39 percent feel it will be better than 2013 and 50 percent feel it will be as good as 2013.

In Michigan, 57 percent of respondents said they expect a slight increase in sales or revenues in 2014 and 55 percent said they will be increasing staff levels next year.

With respect to hiring, 52 percent or respondents said they will do some hiring in the first quarter and 51 percent said they would hire in the second quarter.

Approximately 83 percent of companies in Michigan said they increased employees’ wages in 2013, and 76 percent said they would be increasing wages again in 2014. But 43 percent of Michigan companies said they will shift a larger percentage of health-care costs to their employees in 2014.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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