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M&T survey: Election uncertainty has impact on business

Election year anxieties have midsize companies worried about the national economy even as they express some optimism about the growth of their own businesses.

This is the conclusion of a third-quarter survey from the commercial banking division of M&T Bank Corp. of middle market companies with sales of $10 million to $500 million.

For the first time since 2012, M&T reports more companies expect the national economy to slow than to grow, with 25 percent saying they expect a slowdown versus 23 percent expecting stronger growth.

In commercial real estate, 37 percent of those surveyed said they expect sales volume to decrease compared with 4 percent a year ago.

In addition, roughly one-third of companies expressed concerns about the outcome of the presidential election, saying it could have a negative impact on their businesses.

At the policy level, almost half of companies surveyed identified taxes and regulations at the state and local level as the top challenge facing their regional economy. A shortage of qualified job applicants was identified by 23 percent as the top challenge.
 
Despite the growing pessimism, 25 percent of midsize companies indicated they plan to hire new workers, and 32 percent plan to boost capital spending to grow operations. The majority also expected to increase employee compensation.
 
In Rochester, the economy has picked up speed in recent months, driven primarily by hiring in health care and private education, as well as job growth in business and professional services, according to M&T.

Follow Anne Saunders on Twitter: @asaunders_rbj

(c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.

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