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2015 Business Outlook:
Confidence in U.S. business conditions continues to improve

McDonald Hopkins issues survey findings

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CLEVELAND, Ohio
(February 4, 2015) – Despite concerns about healthcare costs, stiff competition, and government regulations, there is growing optimism about U.S. business conditions in the months ahead. Based on the results of our fifth annual Business Outlook Survey, 78 percent of business owners and executives expect business conditions to improve this year, compared to 65 percent last year and 54 percent two years ago. There is slightly less confidence about business conditions at their own organizations. Seventy-two percent anticipate improvement. As one respondent said, “We are cautiously optimistic about 2015.”

“In the five years we have conducted this survey, we have seen a continuing theme – a business community that strives to be optimistic despite concerns about a myriad of market and government issues,” said Carl J. Grassi, president of McDonald Hopkins.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents continue to believe the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have a negative impact on their company’s bottom line. “The Affordable Care Act will continue to provide problems as the corporate mandates begin to go into effect,” wrote one of the respondents. Another went further and said, “We will be forced next year to cancel our health care plan and put our employees out individually to the market place.”

The survey found that increasing healthcare costs are still at the top of the list of challenges facing companies with 49 percent ranking it among their three greatest challenges. Business owners and executives also worry about stiff competition (41 percent), retaining profit margins (40 percent), and government regulations (39 percent). “Significant government regulations are burdensome…,” noted one respondent. Another said, “The economy will continue to remain relatively stagnant as the private sector consumes resources to meet the ongoing increased non-value added regulations coming out of Washington.”

The improving economy can have some negative consequences. One big concern on a list of executive-related issues is attracting top talent. One employer said, “…a number of employees had previously postponed retirement and are now looking to take the plunge, which will result in higher turnover and increased competition for talent.” Other significant issues are retaining current top talent and key employee succession. Furthermore, there were numerous comments about the challenge of finding skilled personnel for open positions. As one respondent said, “We could see more growth than we are forecasting if we could find the right people to fill our open positions.”

On the topic of data security and cybersecurity threats, 70 percent of our respondents believe their organizations are only “somewhat prepared” for internal and external data privacy and cybersecurity hazards. It might cause some angst to learn that another 13 percent are either “not prepared” or “not sure.”

The 2015 Business Outlook Survey was conducted with clients and friends of the firm from January 5 to January 23, 2015. Click here to read the full report.

About McDonald Hopkins
Founded in 1930, McDonald Hopkins’ mission is to provide insightful legal solutions and business counseling that help our clients strategically plan for an increasingly competitive future. McDonald Hopkins is a business advisory and advocacy law firm with locations in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Miami, and West Palm Beach. Our subsidiary, McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies LLC, is based in Washington, D.C. and led by former Congressman Steven LaTourette. McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies is not a law firm and does not provide legal services. For more information about McDonald Hopkins, visit mcdonaldhopkins.com.

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CONTACT:
Deborah W. Kelm
McDonald Hopkins LLC
216.348.5733
dkelm@mcdonaldhopkins.com
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