FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jaclyn Giovis Wolff
Communications Director, BizFed
2017 BizFed Poll: Hiring Trends Mirror Economic Rebound
Taxes & Fees Reign as Top Concern Among Employers
LOS ANGELES – Wednesday, May 17 — Results from the Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) Annual Pulse Poll show employers who are planning significant layoffs this year hit the lowest level since 2009, while employers who are planning significant hiring rose to an all-time high in the same period.
New BizFed poll data show the hiring outlook in Los Angeles County has improved considerably, especially when compared with 2009. Only 1.7 percent of employers expect to make significant layoffs this year, compared with 12.3 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, 4.6 percent of employers are planning to hire many more employees this year. In 2009, only 0.9 percent of employers polled said they planned to significantly expand their workforce.
Still, most employers’ responses fall somewhere in between. This year, 43.8 percent of employers said they plan to keep their workforce levels the same as last year. A total of 36.4 percent plan to hire slightly more employees than 2016, while 7.7 percent are planning to reduce their workforce slightly. Another 5.8 percent of respondents aren’t sure about their hiring plans this year, according to the poll.
Employment trends are a major economic indicator. The 2017 BizFed poll results illustrate how the regional economy has steadily rebounded, following the nation’s economic collapse. But while optimism is the prevailing sentiment among employers — 65.6 percent of survey respondents expect business conditions will be better than 2016 — business leaders warn against complacency.
“Now is the time to mobilize. It’s more important than ever for the business community to advocate for policy that will help ensure a thriving, stable economy for years to come,” said Tracy Hernandez, Founding CEO, BizFed. “As we know, the economy is cyclical, and we will continue to face challenges as a region. We already have one in 10 companies planning to move jobs out of state. If we wait until the next downturn to push for policy that will help business to remain strong and grow, it will be too late! We need to focus intensely on growing the critical middle class jobs for hard-working Angelenos today.”
The annual BizFed poll represents a snapshot of key issues of concern in the Los Angeles County business community. Business owners and executives are surveyed on the issues they deem most critical to the ongoing operation and growth of their business. This year, the BizFed poll yielded 715 responses, the highest response ever.
Employers reported that their top five business concerns were Taxes and Fees, Public Infrastructure, Government Regulation/Compliance, Legislative Gridlock and Transportation. This is the seventh consecutive year that Los Angeles businesses have ranked taxes and fees as their top concern, which may reflect general exasperation over the perception that even as taxes and fees increase, public services remain stagnant or worsen.
“Taxes and fees continue to present a challenge and stymie many businesses from expanding,” said Mike Lewis, Chair, BizFed. “Los Angeles County employers are cost-conscious and many are inclined to remain lean and nimble.
“Meanwhile, the legislative environment has become increasingly bogged down by gridlock. Bills that would encourage employers to consider new business investment and spur hiring fail to pass in the legislative discourse,” Lewis added.
The biggest movers: public infrastructure and legislative gridlock. Public infrastructure rose from the No. 5 concern in 2016 to the No.2 concern this year; it has been a top 10 concern since 2014. Legislative gridlock moved from No. 9 in 2016 to No. 4 this year. Transportation moved from No. 2 in 2016 to No. 5 this year, but has remained a top 10 concern since 2012.
Most surveys were collected before Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1 into law on April 28. SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, was backed by BizFed and a broad coalition of supporters. SB 1 invests $52.4 billion over the next decade to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California and allocates more dollars toward transit and safety.
“SB 1 was important for California, and especially Los Angeles County employers, who have been calling for transportation and infrastructure improvements for decades,” said David Fleming, Founding Chair, BizFed. “But interestingly, the bill’s passing came with an increase on gas and diesel taxes, as well as a fee assessed on electric car owners and an increase in vehicle owner registration fees. Looking down the road, there will be significant pressure on our government and our elected officials in California to deliver on the promise of critical transportation and infrastructure improvements for which we are taxing ourselves.”
Investment Outlook and Economic Influence
Poll results show investment in human capital ranked as the chief capital initiative in 2017.
Nearly half (47.7 percent) of respondents noted they are planning to invest in employee training/retraining programs. About a quarter (25.5 percent) indicated they will do so “based on the availability of funding” and the others (26.7 percent) indicated no plans to invest in such programs due to lack of funding or a desire to “wait and see how business rebounds.”
Additionally, 41.7 percent of respondents indicated definitive plans to invest in the purchase of durable goods, 39.3 percent in automation/technology and about 38.3 percent in the purchase/lease of real property, equipment, technology and non-durable goods.
The 2017 BizFed poll also reveals most employers (78 percent) plan to stay in the city/county/state, while those planning to move out of state has jumped up to 9.2 percent, and the remaining 12.7 percent indicated they’re “not sure.”
Employers pinpointed several critical factors that contribute to businesses and jobs leaving Los Angeles County. The top three: high taxes and fees (80.6 percent); the regulatory environment (65.6 percent); and traffic congestion/transportation (56.1 percent).
Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) named the City of Los Angeles as the “least business friendly” city in the County. The cities of Santa Clarita, and Long Beach were cited as “most business friendly.”
BizFed leadership and member associations will be using the important insights from this year’s survey to advance a policy agenda that encourages a more supportive environment for local businesses.
About BizFed: BizFed is a grassroots alliance of more than 155 diverse business groups, including industry trade groups, chambers of commerce, ethnic business groups, business improvement districts, premier independent companies and agencies. The organization represents more than 275,000 businesses that employ 3 million employees across all 88 cities in Los Angeles County.
BizFed is recognized as the credible voice for business in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Washington, DC. For more information, please visit BizFed’s website.
Full access to the 2017 BizFed Pulse Poll analysis is available on request.