CEO Survey Reports Measured Optimism

Feb 7, 2012

A new survey by First Niagara Bank and Siena College finds mixed feelings among chief executives of Pennsylvania companies as they look forward to 2012.

Overall, CEOs are optimistic about the economy, a finding that squares with steady job growth in recent months, both in Pennsylvania and nationwide. 42 percent of the 251 survey respondents in Pittsburgh and Erie expect to see the economy improve in the year ahead, while nearly a third told researchers they plan to hire new employees.

"[Western Pennsylvania] employers are more than three times as likely to add workers than to cut workers, which is really back to pre-recession levels," said Todd Moules, Western Pennsylvania Regional President for First Niagara. "So it is a positive forecast."

However, CEOs were slightly less optimistic about their economic fortunes than they were a year ago, when 46 percent saw better times ahead. Moules attributed the shift to the ongoing Eurozone debt crisis, which took many by surprise late in the year.

"I think Europe really came out of nowhere and really had a big impact on the global economy, which affects us all in some way or another in Western Pennsylvania," said Moules. He added that executives are also anxious about the regulatory climate.

The Third Annual Survey of Pennsylvania Business Leaders collected data from 212 executives in Pittsburgh and 39 in Erie, representing companies with annual sales between $5 million and $200 million.