When will local employers feel confident enough in the economy to start hiring?
That's the question on people's minds throughout the North Bay, and business advocacy group the Bay Area Council took it directly to CEOs and execs over the past several weeks.
The answer? Decidedly mixed. Of those surveyed in Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties, 65 percent said that they expected the Bay Area economy to be moderately better in six months than it is now, with 59 percent saying it's better now than it was six months ago. That said, 60 percent responded that they expected the Bay Area workforce to decrease or stay the same as it is now over the next six months, certainly not a sign that employers are ready for a hiring binge.
Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, called progress on Bay Area business confidence "frustratingly slow and uneven," particularly after a spring survey that indicated the Bay Area was ready for "a sustained period of increasing growth."
"It’s economic whack a mole," Wunderman said. "Executives are still signaling optimism that we’re moving in the right direction, which is good news, but the biggest challenge, both here and nationally, continues to be actual hiring."
The council surveyed 426 CEOs, executives and economic development officials in nine Bay Area counties between May 11 and June 5. The confidential survey of Bay Area business executives is conducted quarterly by EMC Research.
Throughout the nine-county Bay Area, just 14 percent of those surveyed said they think the national economy will get worse over the next six months leading up to the presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, while 38 percent said it will remain the same and 48 percent expect it to get better.
Here's how the North Bay's results compared to that of the entire Bay Area:Business Confidence Survey 2012 Bay Area Marin/Napa/Sonoma National economic conditions vs. 6 months ago
Substantially better 1% 0% Moderately better 45% 43% Same 43% 46% Moderately worse 10% 10% Substantially worse 1% 1% Expect national economic conditions 6 months from now Substantially better 2% 1% Moderately better 46% 47% Same 38% 40% Moderately worse 13% 9% Substantially worse 1% 2% Conditions in your industry vs. 6 months ago Substantially better 5% 9% Moderately better 41% 35% Same 38% 38% Moderately worse 13% 15% Substantially worse 3% 4% Expect your industry conditions 6 months from now Substantially better 5% 5% Moderately better 42% 49% Same 39% 32% Moderately worse 12% 13% Substantially worse 2% 1% Bay Area economic conditions vs. 6 months ago Substantially better 6% 4% Moderately better 56% 55% Same 30% 33% Moderately worse 7% 6% Substantially worse 1% 1% Expect Bay Area economic conditions 6 months from now Substantially better 5% 4% Moderately better 54% 61% Same 31% 25% Moderately worse 8% 7% Substantially worse 1% 2% Bay Area workforce in next 6 months Decrease 13% 10% Increase 31% 36% Stay the same 53% 50% Don't know 3% 4%