[A Closer Look]
indicate cautious optimism at best.
U.S. small and mid-sized business owners, for example, plan
to delay hiring new employees or seek new loans amid cautious
optimism, according to the latest findings of the PNC Economic
The spring findings of PNC’s biannual survey, which began in
2003, reveals that only about one in four are highly optimistic
about their own company’s prospects during the next six months,
up from 23 percent last fall. Nearly half expect sales to increase
during the next six months — on par with the previous 46 percent.
“The powerful engine of the U.S. economy is not firing on all
cylinders, but there are sparks of optimism related to sales, profits,
and housing prices,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC.
“These findings support our baseline forecast that the moderate
U.S. economic and jobs expansion will persist in 2013.”
Hoffman added that three factors are holding back the econo-
my: Continued uncertainty about federal spending, tax, and deficit
actions; hiring freezes and ongoing layoffs, particularly at the
federal level; and continued limits on U.S. exports to Europe.
Three out of four small and mid-sized businesses expect their
staffing to remain unchanged for the next six months. Asked for
reasons, nearly one out of three say they will choose to do more
work with fewer employees. Only 41 percent think the federal
government could take actions that would positively influence
their hiring plans, with many citing fewer business regulations.
Jack Keough is contributing editor of Industrial Distribution. You
can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.