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The No-Growth Economy

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Survey: Business costs, workforce, infrastructure cited as impediments

Connecticut companies continue to struggle to grow in a post-recessionary economy, according to the results of the 2012 Survey of Connecticut Businesses, published by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) and the accounting, tax and business consulting firm BlumShapiro.

The survey found that while some progress was made to address concerns about workforce development, small-business access buy valium state financing programs and streamlining regulatory processes, Connecticut has a long way to go to create a business climate that fosters economic success.

The annual survey, released September 7 at the Connecticut Economy conference in Rocky Hill, takes the pulse of Connecticut's business community, identifying issues and trends within the state's economic, fiscal and regulatory climates.

Since the last survey in the summer of 2011, the state's economy has fluctuated, growing at a moderate pace through January 2012, but struggling to expand in the ensuing months.

Although companies were cautiously optimistic about their own profitability and hiring over the next year, business confidence remained fragile, and key metrics pointed to continued slow growth.

"We need to restore business confidence in Connecticut in order to secure job growth and create a bright economic future," said John Rathgeber, CBIA's president and CEO. "But to do so we must address our state fiscal challenges, business costs, workforce preparedness and infrastructure needs."

According to BlumShapiro Chief Marketing Officer Tom DeVitto, the report shows that "demand persists for both business and government leaders to create a more favorable business climate if we expect Connecticut companies to stay in Connecticut and thrive during this long, slow recovery. We must improve the course to create a sustainable business climate."

The 2012 survey revealed a slight upward trajectory in business profitability in the state, but business conditions did not improve significantly over the last year. Of the businesses surveyed, only 25 percent rated current conditions as excellent or good.

Adds Don Klepper-Smith, chief economist and director of research at DataCore Partners in New Haven, “The fact that business profitability has yet to recover to its pre-recessionary levels is not surprising. It is indicative of the overall slow pace of economic expansion, underlying economic uncertainty and profound structural changes that are often underappreciated."

The survey found that hiring was up within the state, with 43 percent of respondents either hiring or planning to hire new full-time workers in 2012. Yet 47 percent reported difficulty finding qualified workers.

"Connecticut's new education reform law and expanded precision machining training in several of the state's community colleges was helping address the state's talent shortage," said Rathgeber, adding that more progress in workforce development was needed.

The 2012 Survey of Connecticut Businesses was emailed in June to businesses throughout the state. There were 580 responses, for a margin of error of plus or minus 4.15 percent.