The future is looking a little bit brighter for Pennsylvania small businesses, according to a PNC survey.
The bi-annual report shows 13 percent of small and mid-sized businesses in the state will look to hire more full-time employees in the next six months. But 7 percent of business owners plan to reduce their full-time staff.
Of those businesses not considering adding staff, 37 percent said it’s because the local economy isn’t getting any better, but according to PNC economist Kurt Rankin, the Pennsylvania economy is as good as it’s going to get right now.
“You can’t ask Pennsylvania-based consumers to spend any more than they already are,” he said. “It’s not that businesses are laying-off. They just don’t have the demand necessary to prompt them to hire more.”
Rankin said Pennsylvania’s economy has started to level off and the numbers he’s seeing are similar to those in 2007.
“There’s not much new demand that can be squeezed out of consumers throughout the state because the recovery has already taken hold,” he said. “Even Philadelphia is starting to get back to where they were prior to the recession.”
This also lends to the state’s business owners’ pessimistic attitude towards the local and national economies. According to the survey, pessimism increased from 35 to 38 percent in regards to the local economy. On the national scale, pessimism rose from 45 to 53 percent over the last six months.
“The outlook does not appear to be good among Pennsylvania small business owners,” Rankin said, “but also, notably, is that Pennsylvania small business owners saw pessimism rise, both regarding the national and local economies, and we did not see that in other states in the region.”
While business owners in the commonwealth might not have a favorable view of the economy as a whole, they’re confident that their own companies are going to flourish. The survey shows 42 percent of business owners in Pennsylvania expect their sales to rise and 43 percent foresee an increase in profits.
The report also states that two in 10 business owners (22 percent) plan to increase employees' pay over the next six months. That figure hasn’t changed much since the last survey in August 2013.
While there could be some slight wage increases, Rankin doesn’t expect anything substantial.
“Businesses will likely keep their payrolls steady over the coming six months,” he said. “So, businesses look to pretty much just toe the line over the coming months.”