Confidence up for employers, chamber says

More employers believe the local economy has stabilized and plan to hire additional workers than during the past two years, according to the latest Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce survey, a sign that perhaps the Grand Valley has bottomed out financially and is on the rebound.

Although a majority of the chamber members queried — 256, or 61 percent — still view the valley’s economy as weak, 21 percent said they think it is stable. That’s a greater share than the 15 percent last fall and 17 percent in the spring of 2010 who viewed it as stable, and it’s the first time since the spring of 2009 that more than 20 percent saw the economy that way.

“Perception becomes reality,” said Diane Schwenke, chamber president and chief executive officer. “If the business community believes things are improving, then overall that is going to be good for the economy.”

Even more telling than that, Schwenke said, is the increase in business owners who plan to boost the local work force. Seventy-eight employers, or 19 percent, indicated they intend to hire more workers in the next six months, compared to 63 who planned to decrease the number of employees. Six months ago, the number of employers planning to lay off workers outnumbered those who planned to hire by 32.

A total of 36 percent of business owners said they expect company sales to rise in the next six months, compared with 12 percent who anticipate a decrease in business. That compares with 26 percent anticipating an increase in sales and 21 percent anticipating a decrease last fall.

And more business owners expect the local economy to recover more quickly than they did six months ago. Forty-one percent said they think things will improve next year, while 17 percent believe the economy is already beginning to rebound. Last fall, 46 percent said it would be 2012 before things began turning around.

“Last fall had people so depressed they were saying 2014 (before the economy improved). They were projecting way out there,” Schwenke said.

The survey, completed Friday, is the sixth semiannual survey conducted by the chamber in the past three years. Of the 1,500 businesses invited to participate in the survey, 417 responded.


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