Posts Tagged survey
Pennsylvania’s business climate remains sluggish as the commonwealth continues to struggle in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Business conditions, employment levels and sales have all backslid over the past six months with owners blaming high taxes, government regulation and a lack of skilled workers for the malaise.
The Fall 2016 Keystone Business Climate Survey conducted by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research found half of the business owners and chief executive officers survey saying the state’s economy has gotten worse over the past six months, only five percent felt Pennsylvania’s business climate had improved during that time frame.
Comparatively, one year ago 42% felt the business climate had gotten worse, while six percent at that time said it had improved. There is little optimism that business conditions will improve soon. Forty-four percent say they expect the state’s economy to continue getting worse over the upcoming six months, five percent expect to see an improvement in the business climate.
Along with that pessimistic overall prognosis twice as many businesses report having reduced their workforce as say they have added jobs. The majority of businesses – 66% – reported that employment levels remained about the same over the past six months. But, 21% said they have reduced their employee compliment while 11% added employees. The picture improves slightly as the owners/CEOs look ahead to the coming six months. Sixteen percent say they plan to add employees, 12% expect to reduce their workforce.
Sales have also taken a hit over the past six months. Thirty-nine percent said their sales remained about the same from March thru September. But, 39% reported decreased sales and were off-set by only 21% having reported sales increases. Looking forward, 51% expect sales to remain stable. Twenty-Four percent forecast an increase in sales, 23% are braced for a sales decrease.
Factors Impacting Business Growth
Among the factors cited by businesses for why they considered expanding their businesses over the past two years, but decided against expansion taxes and regulation topped the list of barriers. Onerous federal regulations were cited by 41% of the businesses that considered, but rejected, expansion plans. Coming in a close second was Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed tax increases cited by 40% as a reason why they did not expand. Pennsylvania’s tax structure was listed by 29% as having frustrated expansion plans.
Thirty-six percent cited onerous state regulations as a barrier to expansion, while another 35% cited the lack of a skilled work force. Nearly half of the businesses surveyed said they currently have open positions for which they have been unable to find qualified applicants. Forty-two percent say they have been unable to fill one to five jobs; 2% have six to ten open positions; one percent has more than ten jobs unfilled due to lack of qualified applicants.
Pennsylvania fiscal condition continues to be of concern to the business owners and CEOs participating in the Fall 2016 Keystone Business Climate Survey. Eighty-five percent disagreed – 70% strongly so – with Republicans in the General Assembly having agreed to a $1.4 billion spending increase and then raising taxes to enact the current year’s state budget.
Looking ahead to what will likely be another epic budget battle next summer, 92% say the General Assembly must address cost drivers such as pension reform before considering an increase in taxes. In fact, 34% said the state’s massive unfunded pension liability has caused them to not consider expanding in Pennsylvania.
Among pension reforms being considered is moving state employees from the current defined benefit pension system to a defined contribution plan. Thirty-nine percent of the businesses surveyed said they offer employees a company administered defined contribution plan to which the company contributes. Only 3% of the private businesses surveyed continue to offer a defined pension plan. Another 40% offer employees no retirement plans at all.
Earlier this year the General Assembly did pass, and Governor Tom Wolf signed into law, some modest changes to the state’s century-old liquor laws. Business owners/CEOs said those reforms did not go far enough. Fifty-two percent would like for the state to completely privatize both retail sales and wholesale distribution of alcoholic products. Another 26% would like to see just retail sales privatized. Twelve percent said the recent changes were sufficient.
Pennsylvania has an abundant supply of natural gas, but additional pipelines are needed to get that gas to market. Eight-nine percent agree – 60% strongly agree – that this resource should be developed and more pipelines built. Nine percent disagree. Twenty-five percent said easier access to natural gas would be a benefit to their business with an additional 14% saying it would be a major benefit. Thirty percent said they do not utilize natural gas in their business.
Over the past nine years since the passage of Act 44 the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has diverted $5.2 billion to PennDOT to help pay for state highways and public transit. This has resulted in annual fare increases for turnpike travelers. Sixty-three percent of those participating in the Fall 2016 Keystone Business Climate Survey said this should end and fare revenue be used only to maintain and improve the turnpike. Twenty-nine percent felt the sharing of revenue should continue.
Job Approval Ratings
President Barack Obama and Governor Tom Wolf continue to suffer from significantly low job approval ratings among the business community. Eighty-four percent have a negative view of the President’s job performance; 86% disapprove of the job being done by Governor Wolf.
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, who faces re-election in November, received a 50% job approval rating against 23% with a negative view of his job performance. The job being done by U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. is viewed negatively by 56% of the business owners/CEOs, 18% give him positive marks. Likewise, 54% say Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is doing a poor job, 15% approve.
Pennsylvania has three statewide constitutional or “row” offices. Two are serving by appointment, their elected predecessors having resigned after being convicted of crimes. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is the surviving official elected in 2012 still in office. Seventy-three percent have no opinion of his job performance, with 14% saying he is doing a good job and 14% having a negative opinion of his job performance. Likewise about two-thirds offered no opinions on state Treasurer Tim Reese or Attorney General Bruce Beemer. Of those who did, 18% give Beemer a negative rating, 6% a positive one while 15% hold a negative view of Reese, 5% a positive view.
As has been the case throughout the Keystone Business Climate Survey’s 22-year history the owners and chief executive officers hold the federal congress and the state legislature in very low regard. Just 8% approve of the job being done by the United States Senate, 11% approve of the job being done by the U.S. House of Representatives. Seventeen percent approve of the job performance of the Pennsylvania Senate; 19% approve of the job being done by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Finally, the Lincoln Institute asked participants in the survey who they support for President of the United States and United State Senator from Pennsylvania in the upcoming November General Election. Seventy-three percent said they will vote for the Republican nominee Donald Trump, 12% support the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and 6% say they will vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson. Republican incumbent U.S. Senator Pat Toomey has the support of 81% of the owners/CEOs, Democratic challenger Katie McGinty has 12% support.
The Fall 2016 Keystone Business Climate Survey was conducted electronically by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. from September 13 through October 5, 2016. A total of 370 businesses responded to the survey invitation. Of those 81% are the owner of the business, 14% are the CEO/COO/CFO and one percent a business manager.
Twenty-five percent of the responses came from the Philadelphia/southeastern part of the state; 18% from Pittsburgh/southwestern Pennsylvania; 16% from south/central Pennsylvania; 13% from northwestern Pennsylvania; 11% from northeastern Pennsylvania; 10% from north-central Pennsylvania; 4% from the Lehigh Valley and 3% from the Altoona/Johnstown area.
Complete numeric results are posted on-line at http://www.lincolninstitute.org
2016 Republican Delegate/Alternate Delegate Survey: Supreme Court, Terrorist, Constitutional Rights Top Delegate Concerns
Pennsylvania’s delegation to the 2016 Republican National Convention rated U.S. Supreme Court nominations, terrorism and protecting constitutional rights as the most important issues facing the nation while viewing the GOP-controlled congress as having failed to effectively counter the policies of President Barack Obama.
The Lincoln Institute’s quadrennial survey of delegates and alternate delegates found economic issues outweighed social issues and foreign affairs in their selection of a presidential candidate, but 60% said a combination of all three issue sets factored into their decision.
That was reflected in the importance given to the various issues facing the nation. No social issues topped the delegation’s list of important issues. A clear concern over fundamental rights emerged from the survey data as the selection of nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court topped the importance scale with 90% saying the seating of justices was a very important issue. Concerns over ISIS/terrorism rated as second most important, but protecting constitutional rights followed closely as the delegation’s third most important area of concern. Jobs and the economy, the budget deficit/government spending and illegal immigration rounded out the top concerns.
Pennsylvania’s delegation hues to traditional Republican positions on President Obama’s job performance. Eighty-seven percent say his administration’s foreign policies have made the United States much less secure; only one delegate thought those policies have made the nation more secure. When asked if President Obama was on the right track or wrong track in responding to the threat of ISIS and international terrorism there was unanimity – 100% said wrong track. Until the threat of ISIS/terrorism has ended, 64% of the delegation thinks the U.S. should ban entry of citizens from countries that are hotbeds of terrorist activity; 26% want to ban all Muslims from entering the country; 13% say current laws are sufficient. Eighty-nine percent of the delegates/alternate delegates strongly disapprove of the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, another 8% somewhat disapprove. Only 3% expressed approval.
When asked if the U.S. economy is on the right track or off in the wrong direction 97% said wrong direction. Ninety-two percent of the Pennsylvania delegation to the Republican National Convention places the blame for the nation’s economic ills on President Obama, but majorities also fault labor unions and congress. There is strong support, 72% with another 26% somewhat supporting lowering tax rates as a means of stimulating economic growth.
The delegation, reflecting the views of its presumptive presidential nominee, opposes free trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Sixty-nine percent oppose TPP with 31% expressing strong opposition. In terms of balancing the federal budget, 79% would do so only by cutting spending; 21% would employ a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts. Concern was voiced over the viability of the Social Security system: 57% think the system will be around for future generations – but only with substantial changes. Forty percent think Social Security is headed to bankruptcy; only 4% think it will survive without changes. To provide for the nation’s energy needs, 93% favor more domestic drilling as a solution; 50% support development of alternative fuels and 30% urge conservation.
Illegal immigration has been a dominate issue in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The Pennsylvania delegation to the Republican national convention reflects his stance on the issue. Fifty-six percent of the delegation wants immediate deportation of illegal aliens; 23% would accept granting permanent worker status. Not a single delegate favors granting illegal aliens full citizenship.
Also spurring Donald Trump’s march to the Republican Presidential nomination was grassroots frustration with the ineffectiveness of the party’s elected officials in Washington, D.C. Eighty percent of the Pennsylvania delegation said the Republican-controlled congress has been ineffective at checking President Obama’s executive power.
As a result, over two-thirds hold a negative view of the job being done by the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
A strong anti-government thread is woven into the state’s delegation as 97% said they view the federal government as an adversarial force when it comes to helping solve problems. Only two delegates view the federal government as a positive force. Likewise, 97% say our basic rights as Americans are God-given; only two delegates view our rights as granted to us by government.
The Lincoln Institute’s survey of delegates/alternate delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention found 92% want Republicans in the general assembly to continue holding the line on more spending and higher taxes. Ironically, those views were expressed as the GOP-controlled legislature approved a state budget which dramatically increased spending and included a wide array of tax hikes. Ninety-six percent agree with the strategy – now abandoned by Republican legislative leaders – that cost drivers like pension reform should be addressed before the general assembly considers any increase in taxes.
Sixty-five percent of the delegation feels the property tax-based system currently utilized by school districts, local and county governments to fund services is unfair to taxpayers. There is little agreement though on how to otherwise raise revenue. Twenty percent favor a higher state sales tax rate while 16% would support a more broad based state sales tax at the current rate. There was nominal support for local sales taxes, local earned income taxes or a higher state income tax. On a related note, 61% favor allowing vouchers or grants to students who wish to attend a public school in a district other than their own, 32% do not.
Generally speaking, 60% of the delegates/alternate delegates think the state income tax rate is too high, another 41% say it is about right. Eighty-seven percent feel state business taxes are too high, only 13% think taxes on business are about right. When it comes to economic development, 96% favor having the state cut business taxes and regulation. Just 4% favor having the state borrow money to help select business ventures.
There is strong support among Pennsylvania’s delegation for a Right to Work Law, which means that a worker cannot be fired or kept from having a job for either joining or not joining a labor union. Eighty-five percent favor the adoption of a right to work law. On a related issue, 76% support enacting a ban on public school teacher strikes.
Pennsylvania’s delegation to the Republican National Convention is a very conservative one. Forty percent say they are very conservative, another 47% say they are somewhat conservative. Thirteen percent proclaimed themselves to be moderates, and one delegate adopted the very liberal/progressive title.
The delegation is skewed to higher age demographics. About a third are over the age of 65, another third between the ages of 50-65. Twenty-eight percent fall in the 30-50 age group, while only one respondent was under 30. Of the delegates responding to the survey invitation 62% are male, 38% female.
The Lincoln Institute survey of delegates/alternate delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention was conducted electronically between June 28 and July 14. 2016. A total of 73 delegates/alternate delegates participated in the survey. Complete numeric results are available on-line at www.lincolninstitute.org.
Radio Program Schedule for the week of May 9, 2015 – May 15, 2015
This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:
- Eric Boehm has news headlines from PAIndependent.com
- David Taylor of the PA Manufacturers Association is joined by Kevin Shivers and Neal Lesher from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business for a Capitol Watch look at results of the Lincoln Institute’s Spring 2015 Keystone Business Climate Survey
- Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on the epic failure of liberal public policy in Baltimore
This week on American Radio Journal:
- Lowman Henry talks with Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute about the impact on student achievement of closing under-performing schools
- Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on Mike Huckabee’s record as Arkansas Governor
- Eric Boehm and Katie Watson have a Watchdog Radio Report on using cigarette taxes to close state and local budget deficits
- Lowman Henry has an American Radio Journal commentary on the epic failure of liberal policies in Baltimore
Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!
Wolf Budget Proposals Deeply Unpopular Among Business Owners/CEOs
After nudging into positive territory last October for the first time since 2004, the outlook of Pennsylvania business owners and Chief Executive Officers has turned sharply negative in the wake of Governor Tom Wolf’s budget proposals. Every component of the governor’s proposed budget “reforms” received a sharply negative response from the state’s job creators in the Lincoln Institute’s Spring 2015 Keystone Business Climate Survey.
Four years of business friendly policies implemented by the administration of former Governor Tom Corbett created a positive outlook from business owners and CEOs for the first time since George W. Bush was still in his first term. Albeit slight, in October 2014, 19% of the business leaders said the state’s economic conditions had improved during the preceding six months, while 18% felt they had gotten worse. Six months later, the picture has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. The Spring 2015 survey found 33% of the owners/CEOs responding that business conditions have gotten worse over the past six months, only 13% say business conditions have improved. Pessimism for the future has deepened, as 44% say they expect the state’s business climate to get worse over the coming six months while just 12% expect the Pennsylvania economy to improve.
Driving the dour mood among the people who actually run businesses – big and small – is a general disapproval of Governor Tom Wolfe’s budget proposals. A total of 78% disapprove of his proposed budget, with 60% saying they strongly disapprove. Just 17% gave the governor a thumbs-up; and only 6% strongly approve of his proposed fiscal policies. Overall, 80% say the governor’s proposed state budget will harm Pennsylvania’s business climate – 56% say it will do significant harm – while 14% think his proposals will improve the state’s business climate.
The state’s job creators are bracing themselves for higher taxes. As a side note, Pennsylvania’s high tax rates and stringent regulatory policies are viewed by the owners/CEOs as the biggest impediments to conducting business in Pennsylvania. They now fear that situation is about to get worse. Seventy-two percent say the proposed Wolf Administration changes to the state’s tax structure will result in them paying higher taxes, 36% say they expect to pay significantly higher taxes. Only 3% expect their taxes to drop if the Wolf agenda is enacted, while 13% say they expect to pay about the same amount in taxes. Another 11% don’t yet have enough information to render an opinion.
Cutting the state’s onerous Corporate Net Income Tax (CNI) and eliminating the double taxation brought on by the Capital Stock & Franchise Tax have long been goals of business advocacy groups in Pennsylvania, but the Wolf Administration plan of coupling those cuts with other tax law changes creating a net increase in business taxes has business owners/CEOs opposing the entire proposed package. Sixty-two percent disapprove of the governor’s proposed business tax plan, 25% voiced approval.
And that was the high point for the governor. Other proposed changes drew even stronger opposition from the business community. His proposal to increase the state’s sales tax from 6% to 6.6% and to apply the sales tax to a wide array of products and services not currently subject to sales tax drew opposition from three-quarters (75%) of the respondents with 61% expressing strong disapproval. Twenty-four percent agreed with the proposed sale tax hike.
Raise the personal income tax rate from 3.07% to 3.7%? Eighty-three percent of respondents to theSpring 2015 Keystone Business Climate Survey said they disapprove, 70% voiced strong disapproval. Sixteen percent approve of hiking the personal income tax (PIT) rate.
There is also deep suspicion over the governor’s plan to have the state pay a larger share of public education costs (with revenue from a higher and broader sales tax) and allow local school districts to decrease property taxes. Seventy percent say any drop in property taxes will be temporary, and then property taxes will rise again. Less than 2% say they expect a significant property tax cut as a result of that proposal while 13% say they might realize a slight reduction in property taxes. That is offset by the 14% who expect to pay higher property taxes.
Respondents to the survey also now oppose adding a tax on companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale region. In the Fall 2014 Keystone Business Climate Survey 51% approved of an extraction tax. Support for that tax dropped to 45% in the current poll, while opposition rose from 44% last Fall to 50% in the current survey.
Overall, Governor Tom Wolf has proposed a state budget that would add $4.6 billion in increased spending to the state’s current $29.4 billion budget. By a wide margin, business owners/CEOs say that is too much. Eighty-four percent say his spending increases are too high; 11% think they are about right; and just 1% think they are too low.
Government regulation is cited as the biggest barrier to job creation by 64% of the business owners/CEOs participating in the Lincoln Institute’s survey. That factor is driving the negative mood of job creators in that two of the most aggressive regulators in recent state history now serve as Governor Tom Wolf’s chief of staff and top policy advisor. Thirty-six percent cited corporate taxation as a barrier to job creation while, 43% blame national economic factors.
Employment levels remained stable over the past six months. Eighteen percent of the owners/CEOs said they employ fewer people, while 16% said they have increased employment. Sixty-three percent reported employing the same number of individuals. Looking ahead six months, 18% say they plan to add employees, 13% expect to employ fewer people. Sales decreased at 32% of the companies participating in the survey, but increased at 28%. Looking ahead 35% forecast rising sales, 18% are projecting a drop.
Job Approval Ratings
Governor Tom Wolf received a strongly negative job approval rating in his first appearance in theKeystone Business Climate Survey. Sixty-nine percent disapprove of the job the governor is doing, while 14% approve. Only President Barack Obama fared worse among the business owners/CEOs, 87% disapprove of the Presidential job performance with 10% voicing approval.
U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. likewise finds himself deep in negative territory as 64% disapprove of his performance in office while 14% approve. U.S. Senator Patrick J. Toomey fared better, with a 51% job approval rating against a 23% negative rating. Toomey was the only federal official in positive territory. The owners/CEOs also approve of the job being done by new Federal Reserve Board Chairman Janet Yellen, 41% approve to 26% disapprove. And U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew drew an 8% approve against 44% who disapprove of the job he is doing.
The legal problems and controversies surrounding Attorney General Kathleen Kane have taken a toll on her standing among the state’s business leaders. Her negative rating jumped from 49% in the Fall 2014 survey to 62% in the current poll. Conversely, her positive rating dropped from 16% six months ago to just 7% in the current survey. Even state Auditor General Eugene Depasquale, the only statewide constitutional officer to avoid scandal, finds himself in negative territory – as 21% disapprove of his performance in office, while 13% approve. But, 65% offered no opinion.
Legislative bodies at both the state and federal levels continue to be unpopular. Just 11% approve of the job being done by the U.S. Senate, 79% disapprove. The U.S. House of Representatives earned a 20% approval rating with 71% voicing disapproval. The Pennsylvania Senate is viewed positively by 26% of respondents, and 56% disapprove. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives fared best among the legislative chambers, with a 28% approval rating against a 55% disapproval number.
The Spring 2015 Pennsylvania Business Climate Survey was conducted electronically by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. between April 1 and April 28, 2015. A total of 351 responses were collected. Of those, 83% were from the owner of a business, 14% from the CEO/COO/CFO. Less than 2% were from a state or local manager of a business.
Geographically, 27% of the respondents were from southeastern Pennsylvania; 18% from southwestern Pennsylvania; 19% from south central Pennsylvania; 11% from northeastern Pennsylvania; 9% from the northwestern portion of the state; 9% from north central Pennsylvania; 4% from Altoona/Johnstown and 4% from the Lehigh Valley.
Complete numeric results of the poll are available at www.lincolninstitute.org.
For the first time in a decade, by a narrow margin, more Pennsylvania employers say business conditions in the commonwealth are improving than say the state’s economy is getting worse. But, that optimism is tempered by a lack of job creation and lower wage hikes due to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
George W. Bush was president and on the verge of re-election in 2004, the last time respondents to the Lincoln Institute’s Keystone Business Climate Survey thought the business climate was getting better rather than worse. Since then the nation has experienced the Great Recession and subsequent slow recovery.
But, the current survey finds 20% of the business owners and CEOs responding say over the past six months business conditions in Pennsylvania have gotten better, while 19% say the state’s economy has gotten worse. By comparison, one year ago 31% felt business conditions had gotten worse and just 14% saw an improvement.
There is not, however, optimism for the immediate future. Looking ahead six months, 27% expect business conditions in Pennsylvania to get worse, while 16% expect conditions to get better.
Driving the current burst of optimism are increasing sales. Thirty-six percent of the companies said sales have increased over the past six months as 24% reported decreased sales. Looking ahead, 32% project sales will increase, 13% expect sales to drop.
Employment levels dropped over the past six months, with 20% reporting higher employment and 24% saying employment at their business has decreased. Looking ahead six months, 21% project adding employees, while 9% plan to employ fewer workers.
Impact of the Affordable Care Act
It is clear the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is having a negative impact on both the number of jobs that are being created, and on wages and pay hikes. Twenty-five percent of the business leaders participating in the survey said they have decided not to hire additional employees due to the requirements of Obamacare. Ten percent said they have actually reduced the number of employees because of ACA; while another 3% said they hired, but did so later than they had planned. Less than 1% said they hired sooner than planned because of Obamacare. Fifty-eight percent said ACA has had no impact on their hiring plans.
In terms of wages/salaries, 33% said they have delayed giving pay raises due to the costs of Obamacare. Twenty-eight percent indicated they reduced the amounts of pay raises, while 26% said they paid new hires less to compensate for the costs associated with compliance of the Affordable Care Act. Five percent reduced the pay of current employees, while 2% said they increased employee pay in response to ACA requirements. A total of 42% said Obamacare has no impact on their wages/salaries.
Education spending has been a major issue in the gubernatorial campaign. But, unlike the electorate at-large, business owners and CEOs participating in the Fall 2014 Keystone Business Climate Surveysay the state spends too much money on public education. Forty percent think state government spend too much on public education, 29% say the state spends too little, while 27% say state spending on public education is about the right amount.
By a large margin, 78% to 19%, the employers say they are not willing to pay higher taxes to provide additional funding to public education. There is, however, strong support for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) which businesses can claim for donating money to K-12 educational institutions. Forty-seven percent think the General Assembly should allocate more month to the tax credit fund so more businesses can participate; 36% say the fund should be kept at current levels.
Taxes have also been a major campaign issue in 2014. When asked whether Pennsylvania should retain the current “flat” income tax or move to a “graduated” income tax where low income earners are exempt and higher income earners pay a higher rate 84% said they support the current “flat” income tax, 14% would like to see a “graduated” rate.
A proposal to exempt the first $30,000 from state income taxes and raise the rate for money earned above that level from 3.07% to 5% drew strong opposition from the business leaders. Seventy-three percent oppose such a system with 60% saying they are strongly opposed. Twenty-three percent said they would support such a change.
Mandating paid sick leave for employees was opposed by three-quarters of the business owners and CEOs who participated in the Lincoln Institute survey. Seventeen percent said they would support mandating paid sick leave for businesses with over 50 employees. Another 6% support mandating paid sick leave for all businesses regardless of size.
Job Approval Ratings
Mirroring the national trend, President Obama received a highly negative job approval rating from the business owners and CEOs. Eighty-five percent voiced a negative view of the president, while 13% offered a positive assessment.
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey is viewed favorably by 51% of the survey participants while 24% have a negative view. The numbers reverse for U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. as 60% offered a negative view of his job performance against a 21% positive rating. Fed Chairman Janet Yellen received a 38% negative / 28% positive rating; and, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew scored a 42% negative / 8% positive.
At the state level Governor Tom Corbett sports a 52% positive rating while 35% disapprove of the job being done by the Republican governor. The CEOs and business owners turned thumbs down on Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who received a 49% negative rating against just 16% positive. Most offered no opinion on the job performance of Auditor General Eugene Depasquale and State Treasurer Rob McCord. Of those who did, Depasquale had a 20% negative / 11% positive rating and McCord scored 21% negative / 17% positive.
Participants in the Fall 2014 Keystone Business Climate Survey took a dim view of the job being done by both Congress and by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Eighty-nine percent offered a negative assessment of the U.S. Senate, with 7% having a positive view. The U.S. House of Representatives fared slightly better scoring a 72% negative / 22% positive rating. Sixty-three percent have a negative view of the job being done by the Pennsylvania Senate, 19% approve. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives turned in a marginally higher score, with a 62% negative / 23% positive rating.
And, Governor Tom Corbett finally came out ahead in one poll. Sixty-five percent of the business owners and CEOs said they plan to vote for the incumbent governor in the November 4th General Election, 20% say they will cast their ballot for Democratic challenger Tom Wolf. However, 53% expect Wolf to win the election, while 29% predict a Corbett victory.
The Lincoln Institute’s 2014 Keystone Business Climate Survey was conducted electronically from September 26, 2014 through October 17, 2014. A total of 316 responses were received. Of those, 69% are the owner of their business, 24% are the CEO/COO or CFO, another 4% are a state or local manager. Twenty-seven percent of the respondents are located in southeastern Pennsylvania, 18% in southwestern Pennsylvania, 14% in the northwest section of the state, 17% in south-central Pennsylvania, 11% in northeastern Pennsylvania, 6% in the Lehigh Valley, six percent in north-central Pennsylvania and 1% in the Altoona/Johnstown area. Complete numeric results are available at www.lincolninstitute.org.
Radio Program Schedule for the week of May 26, 2014 – May 2, 2014
This week on American Radio Journal:
- Lowman Henry talks with Jonathan Williams about the latest Rich States, Poor States report from the American Legislative Exchange Council
- Andy Roth has the Real Story behind why the Export-Import Bank should be dissolved
- Eric Boehm and Benjamin Yount have a Watchdog Radio look at a Supreme Court case that could affect how you watch television
- Col. Frank Ryan, USMC (Retired) has an American Radio Journal commentary on what he has learned about the Hispanic and Latino communities as he walks across America
This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:
- Eric Boehm and Maura Pennington have news headlines fromwww.paindependent.com
- David Taylor of the PA Manufacturers Association hosts a Capitol Watch look at results of the Lincoln Institute’s Spring 2014 Keystone Business Climate Survey with Kevin Shivers from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation
- Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on government over-reach
Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!
Weighed down by concerns over a possible increase in the minimum wage, uncertainty over health care; and excessive regulations, Pennsylvania’s business climate continued to get worse over the past six months. That is the key finding of the Spring 2014 Keystone Business Climate Survey, conducted by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research semi-annually for the past 20 years. The survey asks the owners and chief executive officers of business in the state – the people who actually make our economy run – their opinion on the condition of the state’s business climate and key issues confronting the commonwealth.
On the issue of raising the state’s minimum wage, 78% stood in opposition with 17% favoring a minimum wage increase; 5% offered no opinion. Sixty-three percent said the minimum wage has no impact on their business, largely because their employees already earn above that standard. Of those who would be affected, 21% said they would cut employee hours if a minimum wage increase were enacted; 18% indicated they would reduce the number of people they employ, 3% said an increase in the minimum wage would cause them to go out of business. Less than one percent said they would expand their business if the minimum wage is raised while one percent said they would hire more employees.
Twenty-six percent of the business leaders responding to the Lincoln Institute survey said business conditions in Pennsylvania have gotten worse over the past six months, while 14% said business conditions have improved; 59% said they remain about the same. To the degree there is any good news, the number of respondents indicating business conditions have gotten worse has decreased over a year ago when 35% said business conditions had worsened.
Looking ahead, 24% expect the state’s economy to continue to decline, while 19% predict an improvement and 55% say they expect the state’s business climate to remain about the same. That is a slightly more optimistic outlook than six months ago when the Fall 2013 Keystone Business Climate Survey found 30% predicting worsening business conditions.
Employment levels are down at 18% of those businesses polled, and up at 15%. That is a substantial improvement from one year ago when 27% reported lower employee rosters and only 8% had increased their number of employees. Looking ahead, 18% project increasing their workforce, while 10% plan to cut the number of people employed.
Sales are up at 24% of the companies responding and down at 36%. A year ago only 17% reported increasing sales while 46% posted a drop in sales. Over the coming six months, 36% say they expect sales to increase; 12% expect sales to decline.
President Barack Obama continues to post the worst job approval ratings in the 20-year history of the Keystone Business Climate Survey. Eighty-nine percent of the CEOs and business owners responding have a negative view of the president’s job performance, 8% offered a positive view. U.S. Senator Patrick J. Toomey scored the highest job approval rating from the business leaders with 51% offering a positive assessment of his performance in office and 25% with a negative view. Conversely, sixty percent disapprove of the job performance of U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., while 15% approve. Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen is relatively new to the post, so about half the respondents have yet to form an opinion on her job performance. Of those who have, 15% offered a positive assessment, 37% negative. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew has a 7% job approval rating against a 43% negative view.
Governor Tom Corbett’s job approval rating improved six percent from last fall as 49% now give him a positive rating and 35% disapprove of his performance in office. Attorney General Kathleen Kane is viewed negatively by 47% of the business leaders surveyed with 12% offering a positive view. Sixty-six percent offered no opinion on the job performance of State Treasurer Rob McCord, 14% held a positive view and 20% view him negatively. Likewise a majority, 72% have no opinion on state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. Ten percent have a positive view of his performance in office; 18% a negative view.
Legislative bodies fared poorly in the view of the business executives participating in the Spring 2014 Keystone Business Climate Survey. Ninety-two percent hold a negative view of the U.S. Senate with just 2% approving of the senate’s job performance. The U.S. House of Representatives garnered a 19% positive rating against a 74% negative rating. Closer to home, 56% disapprove of the job being done by the Senate of Pennsylvania, 23% approve. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives posted the relatively best number of 27% approving and 54% disapproving of the job they are doing.
Current state law allows governmental entities such as the state, counties, school districts and municipalities to deduct labor union dues and PAC (Political Action Committee) donations from employee paychecks and turn the proceeds over to labor unions. A “paycheck protection” bill currently before the General Assembly would end that practice. Eighty-nine percent of the CEOs and business owners participating in the survey said they support such a bill and that unions should collect their own dues. Five percent think the practice should continue.
There is a carve out in current state law that permits labor unions and business to stalk, harass, or threaten to use a weapon of mass destruction during a labor dispute. Eighty-nine percent disapprove of those carve outs, 85% strongly disapprove. Two percent voiced their approval.
Seventy percent of the businesses participating in the spring survey say they currently provide health insurance to their employees. Four percent said they provided health insurance in the past, but have discontinued the benefit. Forty-six percent say the cost of employee health insurance is split between the employer and the employee with the employer paying the major portion; another 2% split the cost with the employee paying the larger share. At 27% of the businesses the employer pays the full premium. Fifteen percent said they did not and will not offer employee health insurance.
Looking ahead, 46% of the business owners and CEOs taking part in the survey said they will continue providing health care coverage to their employees, six percent said they plan to discontinue the benefit, another 32% were uncertain.
Legalization of marijuana for medical purposes has become a major issue in the 2014 Democratic primary for governor. Fifty-seven percent of the business leaders say the drug should be legalized for medical purposes. An additional 24% support legalization also for recreational use. Thirty-seven percent want marijuana to continue remaining totally illegal.
In that Democratic primary, 42% of the CEOs and owners polled by the Lincoln Institute say they expect Tom Wolf to emerge as the party’s nominee for governor. Eight percent predict a win for Rob McCord; while three percent say Allyson Schwartz will prevail and 3% expect a Katy McGinty victory. A majority, 51% say they believe Governor Tom Corbett should be re-elected in November, while 34% suggest it is time for a new person to hold that office.
The Lincoln Institute’s Spring 2014 Keystone Business Climate Survey was conducted electronically from March 21, 2014 through April 7, 2014. A total of 378 business leaders responded. Of those 80% are the owner of their business; 13% are the CEO/COO or CFO; 3% are a local manager and 1% a state manager. Complete numeric results are posted at www.lincolninstitute.org.
The Great Recession has given way to a not-so-great recovery as Chief Executive Officers and business owners from across Pennsylvania say that over the past six months economic conditions have at best remained sluggish; and in many cases have worsened. Among the contributing factors is the uncertainty and cost surrounding implementation of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, and a state government that appears unable to arrive at consensus on many of the most pressing problems facing the commonwealth.
Those were the key findings of the Fall 2013 Keystone Business Climate Survey conducted by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc. Confusion and concern surrounding implementation of Obamacare have 78% of the business leaders responding expecting an increase in employee health care costs. Conversely, only three percent actually expect the Affordable Health Care Act to be more affordable. As a result of Obamacare, 21% of the companies participating in the poll said they have increased employee co-pay; 15% have reduced their number of employees; 15% have raised their prices; 11% have cut staff hours and 7% have discontinued providing employees with health care coverage.
Three-quarters of the respondents say Obamacare should be entirely repealed, while another 10% support delaying implementation. Eleven percent said the act should be implemented as scheduled. The intensity of opinion surrounding Obamacare is so strong that 69% of the CEOs/owners support congress voting to defund the Affordable Health Care Act even if it triggers a general shut-down of the federal government.
Business Climate Worsens
Not only is the economy not improving, the Lincoln Institute survey found by over a two-to-one margin the business chieftains said the state’s business climate has gotten worse over the past six months. Thirty-one percent indicated business conditions are worse, while 14% say it has improved; 55% say the economic climate has remained about the same. Looking ahead six months 30% expect business conditions to continue deteriorating; 15% expect conditions to improve.
All of this adds up to bad news on the employment front. Twenty-seven percent reported employment levels at their company are lower than they were six months ago, 18% have increased their number of employees. Employment levels remained constant at 55% of the businesses participating in the survey. Looking ahead six months the state’s employment picture is expected to remain static. Sixty-seven percent anticipate employment numbers remaining the same; 16% expect to have more employees, 16% forecast having fewer employees.
Sales are down at 38% of the companies surveyed, and up at 29%. This is an improvement from the Spring survey when only 17% reported increased sales and 46% said sales were down. There is some optimism that sales will continue to improve modestly over the coming six months: 31% expect sales increases while 21% expect sales to decline.
Job Performance Ratings
The Lincoln Institute’s Fall 2013 Keystone Business Climate Survey revealed profound disapproval of the job being done by elected officials at both the state and national levels. The only elected officials with higher positives than negatives are U.S. Senator Pat Toomey and Governor Tom Corbett – and their positive job approval numbers are down significantly from the Spring survey.
Scoring the highest disapproval rating was President Barack Obama who got a thumbs down from 86% of the CEOs/owners polled; only 9% gave the president a positive job approval rating. Fifty-two percent disapprove of the job being down by outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke; 23% approve. U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.’s positive job approval among the business leaders stands at 14%; 62% disapprove. As for U.S. Senator Patrick J. Toomey, 45% approve of the job he is doing while 26% disapprove. However, Toomey’s positive rating is down 13% since the Spring survey when 58% approved of the job he is doing in Washington, D.C.
At the state level, 43% of the business leaders participating in the survey approve of the job being done by Governor Tom Corbett, 42% disapprove. That is a seven percent erosion from the governor’s Spring rating when 50% approved of his job performance and 32% disapproved. Among the three statewide constitutional or “row” officers, only Attorney General Kathleen Kane drew strong opinions. Forty-five percent disapprove of her job performance while 17% approve. State Treasurer Rob McCord registered a 13% negative rating against a 6% positive rating; but 81% offered no opinion of his job performance. Likewise, 78% had no opinion of the job performance of state Auditor General Eugene Depasquale. Of those that did, 17% disapprove of his performance in office; 5% approve.
Business CEOs/owners also disapprove of the job being done by congress and by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Ninety percent voiced a negative opinion of the U.S. Senate, only 4% offered a positive assessment. Seventy-six percent disapprove of the job being done by the U.S. House of Representatives; 18% approve. State government fared a bit better. Sixty percent offered a negative view of the job being done by the state Senate, 17% approve. Fifty-six percent disapprove of the performance of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 20% approve.
State Policy Issues
The collapse of Governor Tom Corbett’s legislative agenda at the end of the Spring session resulted in considerable finger pointing over who was to blame. The Lincoln Institute’s 2013 Keystone Business Climate Survey found more blame assigned to the legislature than to the governor. Fifty-seven percent said the state Senate is to blame for the failure of the governor’s agenda; 56% blame the state House. The governor himself is blamed by 43% of the respondents. Going forward, 45% expect there will be action on transportation funding as the Fall legislative session gets underway. Thirty-seven percent think the General Assembly will act on pension reform, 35% expect movement on privatizing the state’s liquor stores.
In terms of transportation funding, 80% report there have been no disruptions to their business as a result of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation placing weight limits on a number of bridges due to structural deficiencies. However, 11% report having to adjust delivery routes and 7% have had shipping and/or deliveries disrupted. Six percent report that employee commutes have been affected. To fund repairs to state roads and bridges, 59% of the CEOs/business owners surveyed said they favor shift money from other parts of the state budget; 57% support diverting funds from low priority projects. Twenty-six percent support raising license and/or registration fees; 12% say taxes should be increased. Another 20% want to hold transportation spending at current levels.
There is a carve out in current state law that permits labor unions and businesses to stalk, harass, or threaten to use a weapon of mass destruction during a labor dispute. Eighty-four percent of the business leaders said they disapprove of this carve out, 80% strongly disapprove. Three percent said they agree with the carve out, while 13% offered no opinion.
Current law allows governmental entities (state, counties, school districts & municipalities) to deduct labor union dues and PAC (Political Action Committee) contributions from employee paychecks and turn over the proceeds to unions. Eighty-nine percent of those participating in the 2013 Keystone Business Climate Survey disapprove of the practice and say unions should collect their own dues. Three percent support the practice.
As the debate continues over reforming Pennsylvania’s public employee pension systems, 85% of the business CEOs/owners said state government should transition to a defined contributions system. Four percent favor retaining the current defined benefits system.
The Lincoln Institute’s Fall 2013 Keystone Business Climate Survey was conducted electronically from September 9, 2013 through September 23, 2013. A total of 306 business leaders responded of which 78% were the owner of the company, 17% work as a CEO/COO/CFO; 2% are a local manger and 1% a state manager. Results included a representative sample from all geographic regions of Pennsylvania. Complete numeric results of the poll are available on-line at www.lincolninstitute.org