Just 15% of Midsized Businesses Feel Economy Will Improve Over Next Year

I’ve been getting hit with a lot of surveys and research recently, and not a lot of them have findings that I would consider really important news or insight.

Well, here’s one that bucks that trend.

ADP Research, in a May survey of mid-sized U.S. businesses (50-999 employees), asked business owners and top executives about their perceptions of the state of the economy, their top business concerns, and the key challenges their businesses face moving forward.

Here’s what they found: Although 52 percent of them believe that the economy has improved within the last four years, only 15 percent are confident that it will improve over the next 12 months.

Yes, you read that right — only 15 percent of mid-sized businesses think the economy will improve in the next year. That’s about as pessimistic an economic outlook you’ll find anywhere.

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But that’s not the only findings that jumped out from the ADP Research Survey on Top Concerns of Business Leaders in the Post-2008 Economy:

  • Although 81 percent of owners and executives are confident they are compliant with payroll tax laws and regulations, a full third of them (33 percent) have incurred penalties, fines, and/or lawsuits related to non-compliance.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) of the businesses are concerned about the quality and skills of the available workforce, yet less than half (49 percent) are confident they have the tools to find and keep the best talent.
  • When asked how concerned they are about specific individual business issues relating to their organizations, 72 percent said that they are extremely or very concerned about the cost of health coverage and other benefits, with 54 percent specifically concerned about the status of pending health care reform legislation (aka, Obamacare).

The ADP Research Institute conducted the ADP Business Owner Study in May 2012 among 507 business owners, C-suite executives, and senior level executives in U.S. midsized organizations. The study universe included representative samples of all categories of U.S. enterprises with 50-999 employees, except state/federal government and public education. A statistically projectable sample of 507 respondents in midsized businesses was interviewed, split between two size groups: enterprises with 50-150 and 151-999 total U.S. employees.

Given how many midsized business there are in America (220,000 in the 50-999 employee range of the survey), this is a pretty meaningful study with a lot of meat to it. If you want to take a look at the executive summary yourself, click here for a free white paper that goes into more details.

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


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