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Fall 2007 Business Climate Survey

Total Respondents: 146


Section I: Business Climate

1. In general, do you think business conditions in Pennsylvania are better, the same, or worse than they were SIX MONTHS AGO?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Better 4.8% 7
Same 51.7% 75
Worse 42.1% 61
No Opinion 1.4% 2
Total Respondents    145
(skipped this question)   1

2. LOOKING AHEAD SIX MONTHS, do you think business conditions will be better, the same, or worse than they are now?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Better 4.8% 7
Same 51.7% 75
Worse 42.1% 61
No Opinion 1.4% 2
Total Respondents    145
(skipped this question)    1

3. Are employment levels at your company higher, the same, or lower, than they were SIX MONTHS AGO?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Higher 19.3% 28
Same 49.7% 72
Lower 28.3% 41
No Opinion 2.8% 4
Total Respondents    145
(skipped this question)   1

4. LOOKING AHEAD SIX MONTHS, do you anticipate that employment levels at your company will be higher, stay the same, or be lower?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Higher 14.5% 21
Same 66.9% 97
Lower 17.9% 26
No Opinion 0.7% 1
Total Respondents    145
(skipped this question)   1

5. Have your company's sales increased, stayed relatively the same, or decreased during the PAST SIX MONTHS?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Increased 29.0% 42
Same 30.3% 44
Decreased 35.2% 51
No Opinion 5.5% 8
Total Respondents   145
(skipped this question)    1

6. Do you expect your company's sales to increase, stay relatively the same, or decrease during the COMING SIX MONTHS?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Increase 31.9% 46
Same 38.9% 56
Decrease 22.9% 33
No Opinion 6.3% 9
Total Respondents    144
(skipped this question)   2

7. At any point in the PAST SIX MONTHS has your company considered moving all or part of its Pennsylvania operations to another state?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Did move some operations 5.6% 8
Considered moving some operations 11.2% 16
Considered moving all operations 8.4% 12
Moved operations into Pennsylvania 0% 0
Didn't consider any moves 74.8% 107
Total Respondents   143
(skipped this question)   3

8. Do you foresee at any point in the COMING SIX MONTHS your company considering moving all or part of its Pennsylvania operations to another state?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
May move all operations 5.0% 7
May move some operations 14.9% 21
Not considering any moves 78.0% 110
May move operations INTO Pennsylvania 2.1% 3
Total Respondents   141
(skipped this question)   5

9. In general, do you have a POSITIVE, NEGATIVE or NO OPINION of the job performance of the following individuals?

  Positive Negative No Opinion Response
Percent
President George W. Bush 43.2% (63) 43.2% (63) 13.7% (20) 146
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke 43.4% (63) 11.7% (17) 44.8% (65) 145
U.S. Senator Arlen Specter 33.6% (49) 50.0% (73) 16.4% (24) 146
U.S. Senator Robert P Casey, Jr. 14.5% (21) 55.2% (80) 30.3% (44) 145
Governor Ed Rendell 20.5% (30) 70.5% (103) 8.9% (13) 146
Attorney General Tom Corbett 17.8% (26) 17.8% (26) 64.4% (94) 146
Auditor General Jack Wagner 7.5% (11) 16.4% (24) 76.0% (111) 146
Total Respondents        146
(skipped this question)       0

10. In general, do you have a POSITIVE, NEGATIVE, or NO OPINION of the job performance of the following institutions?

  Positive Negative No Opinion Response
Percent
United States Senate 11.8% (17) 76.4% (110) 11.8% (17) 144
United States House of Representatives 9.7% (14) 80.0% (116) 10.3% (15) 145
Pennsylvania Senate 19.4% (28) 61.8% (89) 18.8% (27) 144
Pennsylvania House of Representatives 18.6% (27) 64.8% (94) 16.6% (24) 145
Total Respondents       145
(skipped this question)       1

2. Section II: Issues

11. The 2007-08 budget passed by the General Assembly held the line on taxes, but increased spending significantly above the rate of inflation. Do you AGREE or DISAGREE that the state constitution should be amended to limit state spending growth to the rate of inflation plus population growth except in emergency situations?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Strongly Agree 54.5% 73
Somewhat Agree 29.1% 39
Somewhat Disagree 9.7% 13
Strongly Disagree 5.2% 7
No Opinion/Refused 1.5% 2
Total Respondents   134
(skipped this question)   12

12. Do you FAVOR or OPPOSE a property tax reform measure that would eliminate all school district property taxes and replace the revenue by applying the state sales tax to a wider range of goods and services?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Strongly Favor 33.1% 44
Somewhat Favor 32.3% 43
Somewhat Oppose 13.5% 18
Strongly Oppose 19.6% 26
No Opinion/Refused 1.5% 2
Total Respondents   133
(skipped this question)   13

13. Do you FAVOR or OPPOSE a proposal before the U.S. Congress that would eliminate secret ballots (and make each employee's vote public) in instances where employees are voting on whether or not to unionize?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Strongly Favor 14.3% 19
Somewhat Favor 6.8% 9
Somewhat Oppose 8.3% 11
Strongly Oppose 65.4% 87
No Opinion/Refused 5.3% 7
Total Respondents   133
(skipped this question)   13

14. Governor Ed Rendell is proposing to lease the Pennsylvania Turnpike to private enterprise as a way of funding road and bridge repairs throughout the state. Do you FAVOR or OPPOSE privatization of the Pennsylvania Turnpike?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Strongly Favor 9.8% 13
Somewhat Favor 25.6% 34
Somewhat Oppose 21.1% 28
Strongly Oppose 38.4% 51
No Opinion/Refused 5.3% 7
Total Respondents   133
(skipped this question)   13

15. The Pennsylvania General Assembly has enacted a law which would place tolls on Interstate 80 to generate revenue to fund mass transit along with highway and bridge repairs across the state. Do you AGREE or DISAGREE with the decision to toll I-80?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Strongly Agree 12.1% 16
Somewhat Agree 30.3% 40
Somewhat Disagree 12.9% 17
Strongly Disagree 42.4% 56
No Opinion/Refused 2.3% 3
Total Respondents   132
(skipped this question)   14

16. Reforming the operations of the Pennsylvania General Assembly was a major issue in last year's elections. Generally speaking, are you SATISFIED or DISSATISFIED with the reforms which have been enacted to date?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Very Satisfied 0.8% 1
Somewhat Satisfied 26.7% 35
Somewhat Dissatisfied 26.0% 34
Very Dissatisfied 21.4% 28
No Answer/Refused 25.2% 33
Total Respondents   131
(skipped this question)   15

17. . Do you believe significant reform is needed in Pennsylvania's current Workers Compensation system?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Yes, significant reform is needed 59.9% 79
No, the current systems works well 12.9% 17
Refused/No Answer 27.3% 36
Total Respondents   132
(skipped this question)   14

18. What specific problems are you experiencing with Pennsylvania's current Workers' Compensation system?

  Response
Count

dishonesty of employees Judges are for employees Small business is at an unfair advantage vs large companies

Current system allows fraud

Its corrupt, It is a attorney welfare system.

workers ability to get claim money. Current policy is too liberal.

Almost impossible to get the WC Insurance, especially with reasonably rates.

It should be left to the private sector with very little governmental oversight. Insurance is a privelege and not a right.

The cost of W.C. insurance is 10x my liability insurance. My small business of 20 employees is lumped into a BIG business rating.

cost

Too easy to "beat the system".

the system is BROKEN contractors should not be liable for subcontractor's w/c. especially by state law a self employed indiv. can not buy w/c for themselves

I own an auto repair shop and feel that the rules governing service writer and front office people are not uniformly applied. The discrepancy between clerical rates and technician rates are huge giving a cost advantage to shops that are carrying their service writers at clerical rates.

Too high of costs and system generates perpetual system users...

Too many people are on who are able to work or be trained for another occupation. People are taking advantage of the system and I think should be screened each year for their potential.

Worker classifications - some are to broad.

THE COST

costs are too high

High rates and that you will not go after the people who have false claims. Call me if you need to find out more. Dave Caddick 215-653-0260

It's totally slanted in favor of the worker, and has become an accepted source of welfare funds.

IN OUR INDUSTRY WORKMENS COMP IS BASED ON WAGES AND SALES. IT SHOULD NOT BE BASED ON SALES. IN OUR INDUSTRY IF WE MAKE A PART OUT OF STAINLESS STEEL INSTEAD OF STEEL, THE COST IS 4 TO 5 TIMES MORE. SO IF YOU USE MORE STAINLESS, ALUM. OR OTHER MATERIALS THAT ARE NOT STEEL, THEN YOUR SALES ARE INCREASED 4 TO 5 TIMES, BUT YOUR PROFITS ARE THE SAME.

New classification of jobs is slow to happen and end up in higher rated classes until significant experience causes the WC Bureau to change/add once a year. Not condusive to new start-up.

It is blatantly one sided towards the employee and must be changed in order to be fair to both sides. This is especially the case if you are insured by the state verses a private carrier.

It's still too easy to collect on "bogus" claims.

There needs to be clarification regarding who is ultimately responsible when a sub-contractor on a job is breaking the law by not carrying workers comp and then penalizing the general contractor.

None other then the cost; no one at this facility has had to make use of it.

The system is overwhelmingly skewed toward employees. Employee abuse is not punished severly enough and it is rampant. Ambulance chasing attorneys should be punished for taking cases that are not legitimate. The state employees running the system are largely inept at best and they have no uniform procedures or policies, they seem to make it up as they go along. Employers do not have the time to deal with SCDU, Worker's compensation, unemployment compensation and all of the other business crushing regulatory problems in Pennsylvania and still maintain their sanity.

Referee's are claiment oriented (they should be neutral). Even if the employer has a valit case it is often (generally) ignored.

It is convoluted. Difficulty with trying to be in compliance is not abating -- it is worse.

Rates and benefits, audits etc.

tOO MUCH PAPER WORK FOR EMPLOYER. NEED TO REDUCE PAPER WORK.

Bureaucracy!

We have lost all but one employee (boss's wife) so at the moment we have no 'problems'...

It is abused and costs too much...don't believe it's being run well.

No opinion, no injuries.

n/a

I suggest putting the medical coverage under a Blue Cross or other medical coverage as long as coverages are the same or greater. That would bring down workmen's comp rates.

No consideration to very very small business.

The SWIF program is an example of government beauracracy working at its worst. Customer service is non existant

the price in my line of work is going too put me out of business if something isn't done.

cost

to expensive

Rates are too high in my industry and the calculating basis for premiums based upon payroll rather than sales volume is a negative to my company.

I personally have not experienced any problems with the current system. I just believe the Legislature needs to have all its activities be open to the "Sunshine Laws" that other states have enacted. I believe our PA Legislature is not as open as it should be so that we all would know what happens behind closed doors.

System runs much too slowly. Litigation spans months. Judges are not neutral. Some, such as Judge Sabastanelli, haven't found in favor of the employer in years.

The amount of qualified people in the system as a whole

Decisions favor the employee too many times. Too hard for the employer to prove misconduct of the employee.

Here is one example: All issues (even related to personal health) on the job are blamed to the employer. For instance, a rash must be because of chemical exposure, not a change in laundry detergent. WC insurance covers the doctors visits related to this, and the employer pays in higher WC insurance cost. Another example: employee has a non-significant injury, but doctor (on physician panel) does not feel it necessary to allow the employee to go back to work light duty. There is no recourse by the employer.

Employee is always favored No limit on being able to reopen a claim

Decisions are too long,very liberal in their decisions, business is definitely not given a fair shot, this is why our company is considering leaving Pa.

Employee Fraud and the failure of insurance companies to help prove fraud and to get reimbursement of payments.

A referee has bypassed established rules. Recent changes have done nothing to minimize the ease with which a false claim can be made.

The need for fair WC judges, not 99% employee favored.

Most are not work related.

52
Total Respondents 52
(skipped this question) 94

19. Do you believe significant reform is needed in Pennsylvania's current Unemployment Compensation system?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Yes, significant reform is needed 45.8% 60
No, the current systems works well

16.8%

22
Refused/No Answer 35.1% 46

Some reform appears to be needed

Unable to answer; no personal experience

too easy to get, should have to show up and do something for the check, clean streets, pick up trash, etc.

2.3% 3
Total Respondents   131
(skipped this question)   15

20. What specific problems are you experiencing with Pennsylvania's Unemployment Compensation system?

  Response
Count

Business rates are too high. People are getting too many weeks unemployment.

It puts all of the burden of proof onto the employer when it is often obvious that the employee is not entitled to benefits. Our governor is trying to make it more cumbersome and create another attorney welfare system.

Constant rate /factor change. Penalizes employer forces employer to do lay-offs!

It is too easy to cheat the system. Law abiding businesses foot the bill, while the cheats get off for free.

Additional employee codes should be added and not lump a specific catagory into one big group. HVAC should have it's own catagory and not listed under Plumbing. Most HVAC employees do not deal with plumbing at a hight rate code.

Ridiculous comp claims for people who just don't show up for work!

My account should not be charged when an employee leaves of his own free will, finds another job, and is laid off there before 90 days.

Again, too many people are taking advantage of the system. When I dispute a claim, the moderator almost makes me feel that I am at fault and am responsible for the livlihood of said individual even though he proably was let go because of his own refusal to work.

Workers who voluntarily quit can still collect unemployment charged against former employer in some cases.

THE PAY OUTS SHOULD BE LOWER TO GIVE A PERSON ON UNEMPLOYMENT THE INCENTIVE TO WANT TO RETURN TO WORK.

it is unfair how they pay out

Again, slanted somewhat in favor of the worker NOT as much as worker's comp, which is "off the charts"

I believe that we need to have a system that allows employers relief when the employee does not perforn his job properly. The only way that you can get relief from a claim is if they violate a work rule.

Everything. They are a group of beauracrats that love to give money away.

See above. "Fired" workers can still collect far too easily.

They approve everybody to recieve benefits

None other then the cost; no one at this facility has had to make use of it.

Again, the same as Workers comp. Employees get comp that are not entitled to it. The system is badly partial to employees and the ligitimate cases are treated just like the rest of the people. There is something seriously wrong with this system!

It is almost impossible to let an employee go reguardless of how good the reason without paying UC.

It is unreasonable and unfair. "Reform" was promised when the "trigger" mechanisms were put in place nearly twenty years ago. Absolutely nothing has been done, particularly to alleviate the problems faced by employers with small workforces.

rates and audits

The employee is ALWAYS granted unemployment! No matter how much information we provide the system always finds in favor of the employee.

too many people are allowed to take advantage of the system

why i have to get audited every year, even though my company is so small that we are under the minimum amount to pay

Only that we need to respond in a timely way or the decision goes to the employee. If the paperwork is lost or misplaced, it still goes to the employee.

n/a

No consideration to very very small business

Big PIG !!!!!!!!

the amount of time required for small business to gather information for the ins. company's annual audit.

the abuse of the system by individuals who take unemployment and do work on the side for cash.

Are all those individuals who have lost their positions always compensated for a lost position? What happens to their health care coverage? What happens to their chilren's coverage? Are the premiums within reach of their reduced income?

System is pro-claimant. For example, we employ people to perform physical labor; that's the job. An employee gets hurt off the job and the state makes it the responsibility of the employer to accommodate limitations no matter how severe they are. We can't do that but the employee gets UC.

People are not encouraged to seek employment once the checks start

I couldn't believe this scenario was real... we laid off an employee for lack of work in May. She received UC for about a month, then came back full time. We then terminated her the following January. She received 26-4=22 weeks of benefits under her first claim AND THEN ANOTHER 26 weeks of benefits under the new claim!!! Our opinion is that the first layoff claim was temporary (4 weeks) and was resolved and should not be made available to her in addition to her termination claim.

Too easy to get unemployment - especially those fired for attendance. Need to look at the pattern of absences, not just the last absences.

Employees who do not want to work still get UC

Allows indiiduals from outside Pa to collect even though they are not able to in the state where they are comming from.

Over the years, the Comp system has pushed employers to establish well written and well defined disciplinary action processes only to disregard them when presented at hearings. Referees should have term limits.

unemployed workers should be more aggressively persuaded to find work in whatever field they can and be subject to randome drug testing while recieving benefits.

People do not want to work

40
(skipped this question) 106

21. As a result of the recent increase in the minimum wage in Pennsylvania, have you had to take any specific cost cutting action(s) such as: (Check all that are applicable)

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Lay-off employees 5.0% 6
Cut hours of operation 1.7% 2
Cancel or postpone expansion plans 7.4% 9
Not hire new employees 14.9% 18
Not hire teens or inexperienced workers 20.7% 25
No answer/Refused 50.4% 61

none

we already paid above this-no problem

work employees fewer hours

no effect because we pay above minimum

No action taken

Not affected by new minimum wage

Limit pay increases

no minimum wage workers

No impact. Don't hire minimum wage workers. It's an insult to the worker.

did not change my business

PEPOLE DO NOT UNDER STAND HOW IT SHOLD WORK NEED FLAT FOR ALL EMPLOYER NOT WHAT CURENT NEW REQ IF YOU HAVE LESS THEN 1O FULL TIME ........,

Have taken no negative measures

does not apply

we do not hire at min wage

cut employees hour

raised pricess

N/A to my business

no reaction to increase.

No action taken

none

No action taken

adjust all wages upward to be fair

PLANT CLOSING END OF DEC

19.0% 23
Total Respondents   121
(skipped this question)   25

22. Do you feel that the current housing market has had a POSTIVE, NEGATIVE or NO EFFECT on your businesss?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Positive Effect 3.8% 5
Negarive Effect 53.4% 70
No Effect 41.2% 54
Refused/No Opinion 1.5% 2
Total Respondents   131
(skipped this question)   15

23.If the election for President of the United States were held today, for whom would you vote?

  Response
Count

republican democrats are not for business

Hillary Clinton

Fred Thompson

The person who will cut spending, cut govermnent down to size, ukphold the constitution, and above all, who loves the USA.

mitt romney

John McCain

N. Romney

Ron Paul

romney

Ronald Regan

Not impressed with any

thompson

Hillary Clinton

Fred Thompson or Mitt Romney

Dennis Kucinich

Thompson

Romney

ANYONE but Hillary!!!!

undecided

Not sure yet, but undoubtedly a Republican for sure.

romney or rudi

Ron Paul

Fred Thompson

Tancredo or Paul

Guiliani

Romney

John McCain

Ron Paul

NONE OF THE PEOPLE RUNING ON EITHER SIDE HAVE IMPRESSED ME ENOUGH TO VOTE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.

Rudy Guiliani

I am not sure any of them

Rudy Guilliani

Rudy

Rudy Giuliani

A DEMOCRAT

Not yet decided

Hillary Clinton

not sure. I am not thrilled with any of the candidates.

Anyone but Hilary Clinton.

Giuliani

Undecieded

Fred Thompson

FRED THOMPSON

Newt Gingrich if he were running. Next best choice, Fred Thompson.

unsure

Rudy Guliani

John McCain

not sure yet

John McCain

Our political process is so far gone that I have very little faith in these candidates and there ability to lead. Anyone but Hillary would be my first answer but if I had to cast a ballot it would be for Senator John McCain.

Fred Thompson

I don't know. I do know that I would not vote for ANY of the Democrats currently in the mix. That leaves voting for the Republican nominee, whoever that may be. At the very least, government should be divided and the Democrats are likely to strengthen their hold on the US Senate and the US House, as it stands right now.

Mitt Rommney

the former mayor of NYC

DUM QUESTION? NO ONE WHAT FOR BUSH THAT IS DAFINATE

Fred Thompson

Giuliani

?

No opinion (yet).

Mitt Romney

Rudy Guilliani

Have no idea!

Hillary Clinton

No democrats are worth considering.... and the Republicans are weak candidates...If the election were tomorrow, I'd vote for fred thompson, but I'm not real comfortable that he is the best option, so far in the campaign.

Rudy Guiliani

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy

undecided

Mike Huckabee

I don't have adequate info for this, but if had to pick one I would vote Gulliani.

fred thompson

gulianni

Anyone except Hillary

OBAMA

Mitt Romney

Democrat - not sure who yet.

Rudolph Guilani

Romney

Hillary Clinton

Mike Huckabee

it's a real Hobson's choice; anyone but Hillary

ME

Guilliani

Romney

Hillary Clinton

A Republican - don't know who yet.

NO one

Rudy Giuliani

john mccain

Too early to tell.

Rudy Guliania

rudy guiliane

undecided

Fred Thompson

Either Dennis Kucinich or Bill Richardson

Joe Biden

This is a private matter

clinton

Guliani

Romney

McCain

Anyone but Hillary Clinton or Obama.

Fred Thompson

Donald Duck - I do not see a viable candidate for either party.

None of the Democratic candidates

Clinton

Romney

Rudy

108
(skipped this question) 11

24. In what part of Pennsylvania is your business located?

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Northwest PA 13.7% 18
Southwest PA 7.6% 10
Northcentral PA 6.1% 8
Altoona/Johnstown .0.% 0
Southcentral/Harrisburg 26.7% 35
Southeastern PA 23.7% 31
Lehigh Valley 3.8% 5
Northeastern PA 18.3% 24
Total Respondents   131
(skipped this question)   15

25. Which category best describes your position at the business in which your work:

  Response
Percent
Response
Percent
Owner 58.0% 76
CEO/COO/CFO 21.4% 28
State manager 0.0% 0
Local Manager 11.5% 15
DON'T KNOW/REFUSED 3.1% 4

agent

Partner

employee

Director of Human Resources

engineer

general manager

Vice Presdient

HR Administrator

6.1% 4
Total Respondents   131
(skipped this question)   15

Taking the Pulse of Pennsylvania