CHICAGO--()--U.S. businesses are facing a crisis of confidence in the country’s economy during the next year, with optimism falling to 19 percent in the third quarter compared to 50 percent the second quarter of this year, according to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR). The report features information from interviews with 3,500 private and public companies around the world.
“Businesses in the U.S. are experiencing uncertainty about how the economy will perform in the next 12 months”
Though the decline in the U.S. was significant, the report shows that optimism in the U.S. is still greater than in the rest of the world, with global optimism falling to just 8 percent. Optimism in some of the world’s largest economic powers also showed a decline from quarter to quarter. For example, in China confidence decreased from 33 percent to 11 percent. Even Germany experienced a drop in optimism from 40 percent in the second quarter to 28 percent in the third quarter.
“Businesses in the U.S. are experiencing uncertainty about how the economy will perform in the next 12 months,” said Stephen Chipman, chief executive officer of Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International. “Much of this is likely due to the overall uncertainty in the country right now—from the outcome of the presidential election to the fiscal cliff. Even so, U.S. business executives are showing some signs of optimism about their revenues and profitability.”
In the next 12 months, 58 percent of business leaders in the U.S. expect revenue to increase. Specifically, 71 percent of respondents from the West expect revenue to increase, along with 63 percent of Northeast business owners, 58 percent of those in the Midwest, 53 percent of Mid-Atlantic/Southeast respondents, and 49 percent of those in the Central part of the U.S.
In the area of employment, a top-of-mind topic for many Americans, more than one-third of businesses (34 percent) reported that employment would increase during the next year. Though some businesses are planning to hire, others are playing it cautiously, with 57 percent of respondents saying they expect employment to remain the same.
While businesses are planning to hire, employers are cautious in the raises that they expect to give to their employees. The findings show that 67 percent of businesses plan to give employees a raise that aligns with the cost of inflation. This is most common among those in the Northeast (72 percent), followed by the Midwest (71 percent), West (69 percent), Mid-Atlantic/Southeast, and Central (63 percent).
Along similar lines, nearly half of U.S. respondents (49 percent) believe there will be no change in accessibility to financing for their business, something that is further evident in the different regions: 64 percent of those in Midwest, 57 percent in Mid-Atlantic/Southeast, 55 percent in the Northeast, 53 percent in the West, and 44 percent in the Central states. Similarly, 90 percent of those surveyed said they believe their lender is supportive toward their business. In fact, businesses surveyed believe the biggest constraint to growing their business is regulation and red tape, with 32 percent identifying it as such.
“Though optimism in the U.S. declined, there are some bright spots for U.S. businesses,” said Chipman. “While many businesses are holding steady, the next few months will be a good indicator of where we stand on the path to economic recovery.”
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Notes to editors
The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) provides insight into the views and expectations of more than 12,000 businesses per year across 41 economies. This unique survey draws upon 20 years of trend data for most European participants and 10 years for many non-European economies. For more information, please visit: www.internationalbusinessreport.com
Data collection is managed by Grant Thornton International's core research partner - Experian. Questionnaires are translated into local languages with each participating country having the option to ask a small number of country specific questions in addition to the core questionnaire. Fieldwork is undertaken on a quarterly basis. The research is carried out primarily by telephone.
IBR is a survey of both listed and privately held businesses. The data for this release are drawn from interviews with 3,050 businesses from all industry sectors across the globe conducted in August/September 2012. The target respondents are chief executive officers, managing directors, chairmen or other senior executives.
Any and all references to Grant Thornton International are to Grant Thornton International Ltd. Grant Thornton International is one of the world's leading organizations of independently owned and managed accounting and consulting firms. These firms provide assurance, tax and specialist business advice to privately held businesses and public interest entities. Services are delivered independently by the member and correspondent firms within Grant Thornton International, a non-practicing, international umbrella entity organized as a private company limited by guarantee incorporated in England and Wales. Grant Thornton International does not deliver services in its own name or otherwise. Grant Thornton International and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership.