Nearly 400 executives and professionals from across all industries in Greater Boston convened Thursday morning, for the Annual Economic Outlook Breakfast, co-presented by the Chamber and Santander.
The breakfast event included an interactive poll – one of the largest of its kind in the Greater Boston business community – on market conditions, hiring plans, and legislative priorities. Results overwhelmingly painted a message of optimism and growth, with most businesses planning to hire in the next year, carrying increased hope in economic conditions both locally and nationally.
Survey highlights include:
- More than 63 percent of attendees felt the overall US economy will be in better shape in 12 months, while 27 percent indicated it would remain the same. Only 9 percent carried negative perceptions.
- For Greater Boston, over 69 percent of attendees think the economy will be in better shape this time next year; 29 percent expect it to remain flat; while less than one percent anticipate conditions to weaken.
- More than 56 percent of attendees plan to hire in the coming year; 36 percent reported no changes likely; with only 7 percent indicating no plans to hire.
- 63 percent of businesses plan to increase spending in 2003; 23 percent indicated no change; with only 12 percent planning a decrease,
- 70 percent of professionals are optimistic conditions for their own businesses will improve in 2013; with only three percent carrying lower expectations.
- The top three challenges facing the state: Overall cost of living (20 percent), healthcare costs (15 percent), and deteriorating infrastructure (13 percent)
- The biggest challenges businesses are expected to face in the coming year: attracting new customers (26 percent), retaining existing customers (15 percent), and cost of health insurance (15 percent).
- The largest factors behind hiring: Insufficient demand among current staffing (21 percent), projected sales growth (19 percent), and a skills gap (14 percent)
- When asked about inhibitors for job growth, the top response: Nothing is holding them back; they plan to hire (35 percent); others include healthcare costs (12 percent) and uncertainty of government regulations and policy (10 percent).
- Addressing the skills gap (39 percent) is seen as the biggest opportunity for talent in the region; 35 percent indicated it’s critical to retain graduates from local colleges and universities.
- Highways and roads (60 percent) is the area of transportation infrastructure most important to businesses.
Attendees also heard remarks from Massachusetts State Treasurer Steven Grossman on the state of the Massachusetts economy, and took part in a panel discussion featuring executives from Mass Challenge, Simmons College, UPS, and Intercontinental Real Estate.
For a full photo gallery from the event, click here.