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Survey: Ohio business owners hold off on hiring


More Ohio small and mid-size business owners are expecting higher sales and profits over the next six months compared to a year ago, according to new survey results released today by The PNC Financial Services Group Inc.

PNC Bank, Ohio’s fourth largest bank by deposits held, surveys business owners and customers twice a year, gauging sentiments about the economy.

On a less-positive note, the same Ohio business owners told PNC that even though business looks to be improving, it doesn’t mean they plan to hire more people.

“Ohio business owners are still very guarded,” said Mekael Teshome, PNC economist.

The outlook has brightened across the local, national and global economies, Teshome said. For example, six months ago the U.S. government was shutdown.

But small Ohio business owners — who do the majority of the hiring — are looking for more goods news before they risk the investment.

“I see this as indicating businesses are pretty much playing defense. There has been some volatility in Ohio’s economy. We hit a bit of a speed bump in the fourth quarter” from declines in government employment, Teshome said.

“I think that speed bump had something to do with firms taken a more precautionary approach,” he said.

“The other reason I think is the manufacturing rebound is really approaching a more mature, more advanced stage. I think there will be continued improvement in this sector, but not of the same magnitude we saw in 2012,” he said.

Forty-eight percent of business owners surveyed statewide expect sales to increase between now and the end of September. In fall 2013, 45 percent of those surveyed expected sales to increase, and a year ago it was 44 percent.

Also 37 percent of owners expect profits to grow in 2014, compared to 33 percent a year ago.

However, better sales projections are not corresponding with plans to bolster hiring. Of the Ohio company leaders participating, 10 percent said they expect to increase hiring in the coming months, a declining share. Survey results released in October 2013 found 17 percent of owners at the time felt they would increase hiring. This time a year ago, 14 percent said they had plans to grow payrolls.

Findings are that a majority of Ohio employers — 83 percent — expect employment levels to stay right where they’re at.

Plans are not to hire more people, nor to reduce staff.

“I don’t see this as a reversal,” Teshome said. “What we have now really is the accumulation of four or five years of a tough economy. There’s no one event that’s going to reverse all of that. I think we need a series of wins to slowly change and evolve our mindset.”



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