Sunday, January 29, 2012

Majority of State's Business Leaders Say Washington Is Heading in the Wrong Direction

More than 75 percent of the respondents to an Association of Washington Business (AWB) membership survey believe the state is generally heading in the wrong direction — and more than half don’t see things improving anytime during the next 12 months.

Employers surveyed said the biggest issue facing their businesses is complying with government regulations (25 percent), a lack of customers or clients (24 percent) and the cost of health care (21 percent).

According to AWB, the survey results illustrate the fragile state of Washington’s economy, and underscore the need for lawmakers to be mindful of their decisions on the state’s private employers as they attempt to close a $1.5 billion budget shortfall during the 2012 legislative session.

“Although we have seen some positive economic signs in recent months, it is clear based on this feedback from our members that Washington state has a long way to go before its economy is truly thriving again,” said AWB President Don Brunell. “Many businesses are still hunkered down, doing whatever they can to survive the combined impacts of a terrible recession, a growing thicket of government regulation and spiraling health care costs.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers appear to be more engaged in the gay marriage issue than the budget problems, along with numerous other less important bills such as whether or not drivers should be required to turn on their headlights when their windshield wipers are engaged (HB 2182).  

Looking ahead, Washington business leaders don’t see things improving soon. More than half of respondents said they expect business conditions to be about the same a year from now. Only one-third believe conditions will improve over the next year, and 14 percent say they will be worse in a year.

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