2016 Business Outlook: Confidence in U.S. business conditions tumbles

McDonald Hopkins issues survey findings

Feb 04, 2016, 08:07 ET from McDonald Hopkins LLC

CLEVELAND, Feb. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Last year at this time, 78 percent of the respondents to the McDonald Hopkins Business Outlook Survey expected U.S. business conditions to improve. This year, however, only 44 percent anticipate improvement.

The reasons for the 34 percent drop in confidence range from election year jitters and stock market turmoil to government regulations and political partisanship. In fact, 28 percent expect a decline in business conditions this year, compared to only seven percent last year. "The future for the next 4 years is hinging on the election—no matter which way it goes," said one of the business owners and executives who completed the sixth annual survey.

"It is particularly interesting that business leaders are more optimistic about their own organizations than the business outlook overall," said Carl J. Grassi, president of McDonald Hopkins. In fact, 63 percent say business conditions will improve at their companies—a less than 10 percent decline from last year.

Seventy-one percent of respondents say comprehensive tax reform is important to their companies, but the vast majority—77 percent—are not optimistic that the election will make it easier to achieve comprehensive tax reform. As one person commented, "A lot of talk from the candidates, but I think tax simplification is a long way off."

Although data security incidents are on the rise, 67 percent of the respondents describe their companies as only "somewhat prepared" for an internal or external data privacy or cybersecurity threat. And despite increasing concerns about terrorism and violence, 60 percent have no plans to increase their security efforts. 

The survey found that increasing health care costs are still at the top of the list of challenges facing companies with 46 percent ranking it among their three greatest challenges. Furthermore, 65 percent expect the Affordable Care Act to have a negative impact on their company's bottom line. Business owners and executives also worry about retaining profit margins (42 percent), and government regulations (40 percent). "We continue to get buried with more and more government paperwork," said one respondent. "It is nearly impossible to learn about and comply with the dozens of new regulations that get enacted, and the government doesn't have the money or manpower to educate us about them."

Additional topics covered in the survey include expectations about employee hiring, significant business issues, interest rates, capital investment, and dedication of resources.

The 2016 Business Outlook Survey was conducted with clients and friends of the firm from January 5 to January 29, 2016. Click here to read the full report.

About McDonald Hopkins
Founded in 1930, McDonald Hopkins provides insightful legal solutions and business counseling that help our clients strategically plan for an increasingly competitive future. McDonald Hopkins is a business advisory and advocacy law firm with locations in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Miami, and West Palm Beach. Our subsidiary, McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC, is based in Washington, D.C. and led by former Congressman Steven LaTourette. McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies is not a law firm and does not provide legal services. For more information about McDonald Hopkins, visit mcdonaldhopkins.com.

Deborah W. Kelm
McDonald Hopkins LLC
Phone: 216.348.5733
Email: dkelm@mcdonaldhopkins.com


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