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2014

Semi-Annual Future Business Index Survey Shows Michigan's Small Business Leaders Believe State Economy is Headed in Right Direction

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LANSING, Mich., Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest Michigan Future Business Index survey of small- and mid-size business leaders shows those leaders believe the state economy has turned the corner and is moving in the right direction. 

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Business owners, as was the case in the June 2013 Michigan Future Business Index survey, said they have seen added growth in their businesses over the past six months and are planning to make investments in their workforce through increased wages and training.

"Many of our Accident Fund customers are small- and mid-sized businesses so it is encouraging to see that Michigan businesses are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Mike Britt, president of Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, said.  "We would like nothing better than to see Michigan businesses grow and prosper.  A healthy business climate in Michigan is good for all of us."

While they see continued optimism regarding future sales and opportunities for growing businesses within their market, their confidence in maintaining a strong bottom line has slightly weakened.  The data indicates that one of the dark clouds casting a shadow on this optimism is the Affordable Care Act.  It is now seen as the top challenge to doing business in Michigan and has forced business leaders to further modify their employee health care plans to comply with new regulations and limit operating cost overruns.  Ultimately, this means that employees will take on more financial responsibility with their health care coverage.

Another challenge for business is the continued shortage of qualified talent.  The number of businesses who say they are having difficulties finding job candidates with specific skillsets continues to climb.  Many are providing additional training and educational opportunities to their current employees to fill their short-term needs, but more must be done at the state level to make Michigan more attractive to recent graduates and highly-skilled workers.

Aside from these struggles, Michigan's small- to medium-sized businesses are in a strong position to grow in the next quarter.  With that continued growth, along with individual and collective efforts to understand and overcome the challenges created by the current recovering economy and existing regulatory environment, the Michigan economy is poised to make significant gains.

Overall, 2013 has been a very positive year in terms of how the Michigan business community views the state economy.  Throughout 2013, a majority of respondents to the Future Business Index survey have said that they are satisfied with the direction of the state economy.  That is the first time in the history of the survey that satisfaction outgained dissatisfaction over two consecutive surveys. 

  • Satisfaction with the state economy gained one point since the spring survey, now at 55 percent, while dissatisfaction dropped by a point to 43 percent.  We have seen a consistent upward climb in this satisfaction trend line since January of 2010. 
  • The percentage of businesses with new hires reached a new historical high with this survey, now at 26 percent saying they have hired more employees over the past six months, up 15 points since October 2011. 
    • New job opportunities are the most robust in West Michigan (33%) and Metro Detroit (32%). 
    • New start-up businesses (33%) and those in the manufacturing sector (35%) are the most likely to be hiring. 
  • Also a positive sign, 42 percent of business owners reported in the latest MFBI survey that sales have increased over the previous six months, a one-point increase from the June 2013 survey and a nine-point increase since June 2011.

Other positive results from the survey include:

  • Increased wages. 
    • The outlook for increased wages continues to improve, as 32 percent of respondents say they plan to increase wages for their employees over the next six months – up four points from June 2013 and up 14 points from October 2011.
    • Additionally, wages are most likely to climb within the manufacturing and financial, insurance and real estate sectors.
  • Michigan as a market for goods and services. 
    • Fifty-nine percent of respondents give Michigan a positive rating for being a good market for their goods or services, a seven-point increase over October 2012.
  • Future of business in Michigan. 
    • Forty-three percent said they are encouraged, with 15% very encouraged, for their business ten years from now.  That is a seven percent increase since October 2012. 

"Upon reviewing the latest Future Business Index survey results, I am ecstatic to discover that Michigan's small businesses believe they have turned the corner and started on the road to recovery from the economic recession," Chris Holman, long-time small business advocate for the state of Michigan and publisher of the Greater Lansing Business Monthly, said.  "The fact that our hard-working business owners are showing less concern about their economic future and that they will be making new hires over the next six months is a testament to their resiliency and desire to make Michigan great again."

The Michigan Future Business Index, commissioned by Accident Fund and the Michigan Business Network, is conducted semi-annually by PhoenixInnovate. The survey has been conducted since 2006. A total of 933 Michigan business owners, operators, officers and managers were interviewed for the November 2013 survey.

To view a summary of the most recent Michigan Future Business Index, please visit the Accident Fund Insurance Company of America website at www.accidentfund.com or the Michigan Business Network website at www.michiganbusinessnetwork.com.

Accident Fund Insurance Company of America
Accident Fund Insurance Company of America has provided workers' compensation insurance coverage since 1912. As the WorkSafe People™ and a leading provider of workers' compensation coverage across the United States, we partner with independent agents to provide small to mid-size businesses with exceptional claims expertise, unrivaled loss control services and extensive online safety resources and training.  Accident Fund Insurance Company of America is a member of Accident Fund Holdings, Inc.  Accident Fund Holdings and its subsidiaries are one of the largest workers' compensation insurers in the United States and rated "A-" (Excellent) by A.M. Best.

SOURCE Accident Fund Insurance Company of America



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