Los Angeles Business Journal

Survey: Local Companies Bullish on Business Conditions

By Howard Fine Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Nearly two-thirds of local companies say business conditions are improving and 36 percent say they plan to add employees, according to an annual survey from the Los Angeles County Business Federation, or BizFed.

Both those figures are substantially higher than last year, when barely half of local employers surveyed said business conditions were improving and only 30 percent planned to hire workers.

“Businesses locally are benefitting from the improving economy and a better climate for investing nationally,” said Martha Cox-Nitikman, government affairs director at the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles and co-chair of the BizFed poll.

The survey of 564 respondents from BizFed’s 120 member business organizations conducted in mid-March also found that the top concern of local companies is taxes and fees, followed by energy and fuel costs and then public infrastructure.

“We need to capitalize on projected business growth in Los Angeles County by addressing concerns about the existing level of taxes and fees along with rising energy costs, while simultaneously finding ways to strengthen public infrastructure needs vital to moving water, people and goods,” said Don St. Clair, BizFed chair and a vice president at Woodbury University near Burbank.

In one of the survey’s more surprising findings, 60 percent of the respondents said the statewide minimum wage increase signed into law last year would either have a positive impact or no impact at all on their business, while only 18 percent said it would negatively impact their business.

This finding is in stark contrast to the strident opposition last year from many BizFed members; they had argued that increasing the minimum wage would result in massive layoffs and companies fleeing the state.

BizFed leaders say this disconnect is likely due to the fact that most of the businesses surveyed are not from low-wage industries.

“Businesses that (already) pay their employees much more than the suggested minimum wage are nearly all of that 60 percent who felt it would have no effect on them,” said David Fleming, founding chair of BizFed and of counsel to the law firm of Latham & Watkins.

BizFed’s members – including chambers of commerce and local trade associations – represent 268,000 employers with nearly 3 million employees in Los Angeles County.