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Survey finds business owners worrying

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A lot can happen in a year: Housing slumps, the Iraq war worsens, gas prices spike to record levels, major natural disasters hit. So it’s not surprising that the mood of the 600 respondents to this month’s Input survey, conducted by research partners Conkling Fiskum & McCormick, is gloomier than it was last summer.

This shift, says economist Tom Potiowsky, “brings a little more risk to the vitality of the economy. When a business group feels that way, your worry is a herd mentality. Maybe they will hold off on hiring. It can snowball on you.”

But Potiowsky, formerly the state’s chief economist and now a professor at Portland State University, says that businesses have been through rocky times before, and they are now “much more resilient to the shocks of high energy, slowing housing, geopolitical upheavals, news from Iraq and things like Hurricane Katrina. Also, consumers are still spending, sales are still at a moderately good level. It’s not time to circle the wagons. You are still going to look for business opportunities.”

He notes that even though 40% of the respondents say they expect their business to improve versus 55% last year, “a total of 83% said things will improve or at least stay the same. That’s still good.”

The cost of health care is still a chronic worry, but not as much as last year. Businesses have already absorbed the impact of those costs, surmises Potiowsky. “They’re worried,” he adds, “but they don’t have their heads in the oven yet.”

To participate in the Input survey, send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Research conducted by Conkling Fiskum & McCormick.


Over the past year, would you say Oregon's economy has: Over the next year, do you expect your business to:
May '04 Aug '05 Sep '06 Aug '05 Sep '06
Gotten better 40% 53% 47% Improve 55% 40%
Stayed the same 40% 35% 37% Stay the same 35% 43%
Gotten worse 19% 11% 14% Get worse 7% 14%
Not sure 1% 1% 2% Not sure 3% 3%

How concerned are you about the effect of the following issues on Oregon business?

Not at all concerned A little concerned Somewhat concerned Concerned Very concerned

Cost of health care 1% 3% 11% 32% 53%

Funding for public education 4% 9% 22% 24% 41%

Methamphetamine use 5% 12% 21% 27% 35%

Cost of oil 2% 7% 25% 33% 26%

Federal budget deficit 6% 18% 25% 26% 34%

Aging transportation infrastructure 2% 12% 31% 34% 21%

U.S. international trade deficit 7% 16% 34% 28% 17%

Crime 6% 21% 34% 23% 17%

Terrorism 14% 30% 28% 14% 10%




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