CEOs see stability coming for Vermont's economy
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | October 14,2012
A new survey by the Vermont Business Roundtable shows that chief executives of the state’s top companies are optimistic that the economy will at least be stable in coming months and they project increased hiring and capital spending as a result.
According to the survey conducted from Sept. 17-28 and released last week, 62 percent of the CEOs who took part are expecting sales to increase, a drop of 2 percentage points from the second quarter of 2012.
However, the percentage of CEOs expecting capital spending to increase is 43 percent, an increase of 10 percentage points from the previous survey.
Optimism is the same for increased hiring, foreseen by 43 percent of the CEOs. That’s 11 percentage points higher than in the second quarter.
Lisa Ventriss, president of the Vermont Business Roundtable, said this was especially good news for Vermont because winter, when companies are hiring to respond to the influx of tourists, is coming soon.
In a statement, Steve Voigt, chairman of the Vermont Business Roundtable and president and CEO of King Arthur Flour in Norwich, said the survey results indicated a “high level of optimism in the economy” compared to the second quarter of 2012.
“Over 90 percent of members who responded are anticipating either increased or stable activity in sales, capital spending and employment,” Voigt said. “This bodes well for Vermont as we head into the holiday and winter recreation seasons.”
Ventriss pointed out that the organization’s members were from 120 successful, iconic Vermont companies, in various industries and across most of the state.
“The people who are participating in this survey are (from) major Vermont companies so I think the value is that you’re hearing from this very successful group of business leaders about where they think their companies are going over the next six months,” she said.
Vermont business leaders are much more optimistic than the national average, according to the results of similar surveys.
The national Business Roundtable reported the third-quarter survey results as showing that 75 percent of CEOs expected sales to increase in the second quarter but for the third quarter, the percentage dropped 17 percentage points to 58 percent.
The percentage of CEOs expecting to increase capital spending was 30 percent nationally for the most recent quarter and 43 percent for the second quarter. For hiring increases, the national numbers showed 29 percent expected hiring to increase while in the second quarter, the percentage was 36 percent.
What may be more disturbing for many is that the national survey of CEOs showed that about a third, or 34 percent, expected hiring to decrease, while in the second quarter 20 percent of CEOs expected hiring to drop.
Again, Vermont showed a better outlook with 10 percent expecting hiring to drop in the recent survey, just 2 percentage points above the 8 percent expecting decreases in the second quarter.
The response rate for the second quarter was 68 percent, which is toward the high end of the historic rates of between 35 percent and 73 percent.
The Vermont Business Roundtable is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of chief executive officers whose employees account for more than 10 percent of the state’s work force.