Despite Optimism for Select Sectors, CEO Confidence Index Hits Near Lows

HYDE PARK, NY—A survey released on March 5 by the Siena College Research Institute of more than 500 upstate business leaders showed optimism that several sectors of the economy—technology, education, tourism, medical and manufacturing—will prosper in the next three to five years. Also, a majority describe current business conditions in their local area as staying the same or getting better.

However, CEOs surveyed by the Siena College Research Institute also are wary of current adverse economic conditions, government regulation, rising supplier costs, healthcare costs and taxation. Those sentiments weighed on the Research Institute’s Business Leader Confidence Index, which recorded the second lowest score since the survey began 17 years ago, topping only the score recorded during the Great Recession of 2008.

Siena College Research Institute Director Dr. Don Levy presented the findings at the HVEDC’s second annual CEO Survey Breakfast.

The Siena College Research Institute’s Upstate New York Business Leader Survey was conducted in partnership with UHY, a prominent professional services firm, and the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corp. Research Institute Director Dr. Don Levy presented the findings at the HVEDC’s second annual CEO Survey Breakfast at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. The report detailed Hudson Valley and New York State economic trends and forecasts, as well as CEOs’ feedback on the vital issues influencing companies’ ability to compete in today’s economy.

Workforce recruitment and retention remain areas of concern for CEOs—and, as such, they are seeking solutions, the survey said. Only 29% of CEOs surveyed plan to increase their workforce this year, vs. 33% a year ago. However, 80% of CEOs, two percentage points fewer than last year, say there is a deficiency of trained local workers. Three-quarters of the CEOs report difficulty filling open positions, with healthcare (89%), engineering/construction (92%) and manufacturing (79%) most acutely feeling the pinch.

One-third of respondents, vs. 38% last year, have difficulty retaining existing employees. In addition, CEOs said job applicants’ quality is lacking, particularly in technical skills, professionalism, initiative, work ethic, writing skills and being realistic on compensation.

CEOs also say headwinds continue to hinder business success. At least 50% of all CEOs cited these top challenges: adverse economic conditions, 58%, down from 65% last year; governmental regulation, 65%, up from 63% last year; rising supplier costs, 56%, down from 60% last year; healthcare costs, 58%, virtually unchanged and taxation, 57%, unchanged from last year.

The full report is available at:

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