Business optimism, hiring outlook rise in recent survey
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Thursday, April 05, 2012
4/05/12 at 3:21 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - A statewide survey shows that 37 percent of businesses plan to hire additional employees in 2012 and 69 percent plan to hire during the next three years.
The findings from a recently released survey organized by Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce compared favorably to a national average of just 28 percent of businesses planning to hire this year.
Additionally, 78 percent of business leaders polled in the survey indicated they are optimistic about the future for business in the state and are confident their business will grow, compared with 60 percent nationally.
Fallin said Wednesday that the report is the largest of its type ever conducted in the state and was undertaken to find more ways to create more employment opportunities and a better environment for Oklahoma businesses.
"We want to continue to help them add new jobs and build stronger, more successful companies to build Oklahoma's economy," she said.
The survey, conducted by Reliant, a Tulsa-based human resource company, allowed people to participate by filling out an online form. Dustin Pyett, communications manager at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, said they're confident in the integrity of the data.
"Reliant has safeguards built into their proprietary software, and they have software in place to eliminate duplicate submissions," he said.
Reliant CEO Chris Wright said the company followed up with some submissions and specifically sent out invitations to participate via chambers of commerce and other organizations, though it's "impossible" to make sure that every single submission was from a business leader.
"If someone wanted to go to the trouble to pretend they were a company, there could be some of that information in there," he said.
However, Wright said he doubted there were many false reports, and the Department of Commerce noted in the report that the margin of error for report questions ranges from 0.9 to 1.6 percent, "which is a 95-percent confidence interval."
Fallin said the results of the survey were largely where government officials were hoping them to be.
Dave Lopez, Secretary of Commerce and Tourism, said the survey's goals were to help understand the needs of existing businesses, identify ways to help them and establish stronger communication between the business community and state leaders. Among businesses covered in the survey, 51 percent indicated they would expand or upgrade existing locations in the next three years, 28 percent will add locations and 60 percent will add new products or services.
Nearly two-thirds of business leaders said they believe the state provides a good climate for entrepreneurs.
The business leaders said they believe the state excels at the quality of higher education, access to business supplies, CareerTech system's work force preparation programs, affordable housing and attractive recreational opportunities.
However, they indicated the state needs to improve workers compensation costs, access to sufficient public funding sources and business incentives, assistance programs and tax structure.
"That surprised me a bit, since we were under the impression that we offered some of the best incentive programs in the nation," Fallin said. "It may be a matter of perception."
Leaders indicated their top challenges include customer loyalty and retention, increasing sales and growth, managing their reputation, the unpredictable economic climate and adapting to change.
The survey, conducted over December and January, gathered responses from 5,400 business leaders from all 77 counties. The respondents represent more than 250,000 jobs and more than 20 percent of Oklahoma's total work force.
Lopez said the Department of Commerce will continue to explore the survey's findings and will release additional information over the coming months on issues such as business climate strengths, opportunities for improvement, workforce, business expansion and infrastructure, government services and top challenges facing executives. He also hopes to conduct similar surveys every few years.
Original Print Headline: Survey finds optimism, hiring plans on upswing
Robert Evatt 918-581-8447