Siena Survey: Pa. Biz Leaders Pessimistic About 2013

First Niagara logoFirst Niagara Financial Group released its Fourth Annual Survey of Pennsylvania Business Leaders today and the results are not encouraging.

The survey was conducted by the Siena College Research Institute and the results were based on the responses of 715 Pennsylvania business leaders whose overall expectations for 2012 were not met and therefore are have lowered their expectations for the economy in 2013.

The business leaders sampled were from Pennsylvania’s major metropolitan areas of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton, Altoona, Harrisburg, Erie, Lancaster, Reading, and York.  They represent CEOs, CFOs, and senior managers of private companies whose sales span $5 million to $200 million annually.  The companies selected were from a variety of industries such as manufacturing, retail, engineering, and food and beverage.

Robert Kane, the Eastern Pennsylvania regional president for First Niagara shed some light on the real life ramifications of last year’s economic shortcomings.

“Many Pennsylvania business executives indicated their dissatisfaction with how the economy played out in 2012 for them versus their earlier expectations, so they have adopted a more critical outlook moving ahead in 2013… They are continuing to focus on growing their businesses but in a financially realistic way given the ‘new normal’ they have been dealing with.”

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent as of December, a hair above the national average of 7.8 percent. It’s the second time since the recession began that Pa. is doing worse the the country at large (the Commonwealth was 0.4 percent above national in September 2012).

The results of this year’s survey show a marked difference in business leaders’ outlooks compared with last year.  This year, 32 percent of those surveyed expect a change in economic conditions and 36 percent expect those conditions to stay the same as last year.  In 2012, 42 percent of those surveyed had positive expectations for the year, expectations that were not fulfilled.

Western Pennsylvania regional president for First Niagara was cautiously optimistic despite the survey results saying, “Even as their confidence levels have dropped from last year, these business leaders are still primed to grow their businesses as the economy improves.”

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