WMC 2012 Economic Outlook Survey: 94 Percent of CEOs Say State is Headed in Right Direction

MADISON – Wisconsin CEOs are bullish about Wisconsin heading into 2012, with 94 percent saying the state is heading in the right direction, but executives increasingly cite recalls and political instability as a business concern, a survey of WMC members found.

“The business community in Wisconsin is confident, upbeat and poised for job creation,” said Kurt R. Bauer, WMC President/CEO. “CEOs have seen the long list of pro-business reforms passed at the Capitol in the last year and they are brimming with optimism because of the tax cuts, regulatory reform and lawsuit reforms.”

“But, they are increasingly alarmed by the constant recalls and political instability that compounds increased regulatory pressure from the federal government,” Bauer said. “Uncertainty inhibits job creation and the constant threat of recalls undermines not only our democracy but our economy.” Seven percent said recall reform would improve Wisconsin’s business climate.

For the first time in the 15-year history of the WMC Economic Outlook Survey, CEOs said recall reform and ending political instability in the state would help improve the business climate. “That’s an alarm bell that needs to be heard,” Bauer said.

WMC conducted the online survey of 1,167 CEOs in late November. WMC received 281 responses from all sectors and small, medium and large employers. The survey is statistically valid. Complete WMC Economic Outlook Survey results are available at www.wmc.org

At the same time, 86 percent of those surveyed said the state is pro-business.

And, 44 percent of the executives reported they would be adding jobs in the next six months, with 49 percent reporting no change and 7 percent reporting a decline. Also, 43 percent said they are having trouble hiring employees despite high unemployment, the survey found.

“Wisconsin is facing a jobs paradox,” Bauer said. “We have relatively high unemployment, but almost half of employers are having trouble hiring. We need to do a better job matching worker skills with the jobs that are available.”

WMC Economic Outlook Survey 2012 Key Findings

WAGES – The wage picture is mixed, with 43 percent of employers offering salary hikes of 2 percent or less. But, wage hikes of 2.1 to 3 percent were forecast by 31 percent of respondents. Wage hikes of 3 to 3.5 percent were predicted by 22 percent of CEOS.

ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN – The economic slowdown is listed as the top business concern by 45 percent of CEOS, overwhelmingly the top business problem.

TAXES AND REGULATIONS – Despite recent tax cuts and regulatory reform, CEOs say high taxes and regulatory burdens vex their companies. Some 24 percent said high taxes are the state’s top policy problem, and 21 percent cited regulations.

BUSINESS GROWTH – Fifty-two percent predicted good to moderate growth at their own companies over the next six months.

WISCONSIN GROWTH – Forty-eight percent predicted good to moderate growth in the Wisconsin economy in the next six months.

NATIONAL GROWTH – Only 23 percent predicted good to moderate growth in the national economy in the next six months.

WISCONSIN EXPANSIONS – Thirty-eight percent of CEOs said they would be expanding in Wisconsin in the next year or two.

“Wisconsin is ready for a tremendous economic rebound,” Bauer said. “CEOs are confident our state is heading in the right direction. And, confidence is a huge factor for business executives when they make decisions about job creation and expansion.”

WMC has conducted the WMC Economic Outlook Survey since 1997 of its board of directors and members.

WMC is the state’s largest business trade association, representing manufacturers and service sector employers.

Related Material:
WMC 2012 Economic Outlook Survey
WMC Economic Outlook Survey History

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Kurt R. Bauer, (608) 258-3400

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