Health care costs have always been a top concern for Capital Region businesses. But these days, the culprit has a name: Obamacare.
Nearly 64 percent of Capital Region firms say the Affordable Care Act has increased costs either to their business or to their employees, according to the 28th annual Business Climate Survey conducted by Marvin and Company and the University at Albany School of Business. The survey was released Wednesday, with results presented during a news conference at UAlbany’s new School of Business building.
About 22 percent of local businesses say health care reform has caused them to implement significant changes to their health insurance coverage, while about 15 percent say they have changed insurance providers because of it.
The good news is that more than 91 percent of Capital Region firms are expecting business to expand or remain stable in the new year. And in 2013, more than 81 percent of firms actually saw business increase or stay the same — up from 79 percent in 2012.
“More than 50 percent of respondents expect the Capital Region’s economy to continue to prosper in the next several years despite ongoing concern regarding health care costs, taxes, the national economy and government regulations,” Marvin and Company Director Kevin P. O’Leary said in a news release. “Regional firms are continuing to feel some boost from the technology sector, with more than 40 percent having a significant or moderate impact. Obviously, the technology sector of the Capital Region continues to help the other businesses in our economy.”
Some pockets of the Capital Region appear to be more optimistic than others.
Albany-Colonie firms are the most confident that their business will grow in 2014, followed by southern Saratoga County and Schenectady County businesses.
Southern Saratoga County businesses are the most confident that the Capital Region economy is recovering, followed by the Albany-Colonie region and Schenectady County.
Saratoga County is the most confident that the Capital Region economy will prosper in the next several years. A majority of businesses in the region feel this way, although in some pockets of the region, such as Schenectady County, Guilderland and the Adirondacks, the majority of businesses are expecting little or no growth.
The survey’s history shows that expectations are usually pretty close to actual business outcomes. Last year, 49 percent of businesses said they were expecting business to increase and 50 percent of businesses saw an increase. The year before that, expectations for increased business and actual increased business was 49 percent.
For that reason, the survey offers a barometer of the regional economic outlook. It was initially developed to respond to chambers and prospective clients who were trying to assess the regional marketplace and how it might affect contracting, expanding and hiring. Today, it’s used by chambers, developers, politicians and businesses.
Marvin and Company and UAlbany’s School of Business conduct the survey in conjunction with local chambers. This year, School of Business Associate Professor Jakov Crnkovic worked on the survey with Rebecca Shost, a UAlbany senior from Clifton Park who is majoring in information technology management. Shost will use the data for an undergraduate research project.
“The Business Climate Survey highlights how Capital Region firms continue to prosper, despite significant concerns about the rising cost of health care,” UAlbany School of Business Dean Donald Siegel said in a news release. “The results showcase the resiliency of area businesses, stimulated by regional and federal investment in high technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.”