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Jump in Employer Optimism Tempered by Taxes, Energy Costs, Infrastructure as Top Concerns


A new Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) survey shows employers think things are getting better – 25% more say business conditions will improve this year than did last year and 20% more report that they plan to hire than did last year.

The annual survey of 120 BizFed member organizations representing 268,000 employers with nearly 3 million employees finds:

               65% believe business conditions will improve this year

               36% plan to hire this year

               Nearly half (46%) anticipate making capital investments in both durable and non-durable goods, either on a limited basis or based on availability of funding

               60% believe the minimum wage increase will either have no impact or a positive economic impact

According to the 2014 BizFed poll, employers’ top issues are:

      Taxes and fees

      Energy/fuel costs

      Public infrastructure (waterways, roads, rail, etc.)

      Affordable health care coverage

      Government regulations/compliance


The optimism is tempered by concerns about taxes and fees, rising energy costs, and public infrastructure. For the fourth year in a row, taxes and fees top the BizFed survey as the highest-priority concern for employers.  Energy and public infrastructure made a leap into the second and third spots in this year’s BizFed poll about employer priorities, moving up from the seventh and 12 spots, respectively, in 2013. Employers report that they need reliable access to affordable energy and adequate waterways, roads, bridges, and railways to continue to operate. Although there was no one city clearly identified as most business friendly, the City of Los Angeles stood out again as being cited most frequently by employers as unfriendly.

The cumulative effect of these concerns stifles California’s competitiveness for job creation.

“We need to capitalize on projected business growth in Los Angeles County by addressing concerns about the existing level of taxes and fees along with rising energy costs, while simultaneously finding ways to strengthen public infrastructure needs vital to moving water, people, and goods,” says Don St. Clair, Ed.D., BizFed Chair and a vice president at Woodbury University. “We have to seize this moment to consider public-private partnerships that could produce solutions that will keep and attract Los Angeles County employers and lead to a greater economic recovery.”

 “Employers still face real struggles, particularly when it comes to taxes and fees,” says David Fleming, BizFed Founding Chair.  “Small business owners rank personal income tax as having the greatest impact on their businesses, and nearly 25% say corporate income taxes and property taxes have a big impact on their businesses. Lowering the tax burden that employers face has to be a top priority if we want to make progress.”

“Job growth is ours to grab or give away,” says Tracy Rafter, CEO, BizFed. “We have to tackle the cumulative tax and fee burdens within Los Angeles County, the 88 cities in the county, and the state as a whole or all of this optimism will be captured by other regions and other states.”