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For Release — Tuesday, October 17, 2000

SURVEY: BUSINESS COUNCIL MEMBERS SEE IMPROVEMENT-
AND ROOM FOR MORE-IN NEW YORK'S BUSINESS CLIMATE, TAXES
Respondents strongly affirm the importance of education at all levels to business

ALBANY—Employers in New York think that the state's business climate has improved in the last five years but still lags behind other states', a new Business Council survey of its members shows.

Respondents to the survey cited a lower overall tax burden and improvements to the state's regulatory climate as key improvements in New York's business climate. But they also said overwhelmingly that all major taxes, especially local school and property taxes, remain high in New York State.

Respondents also strongly affirmed the importance of universities, colleges, and research institutions to the state's economy, and said that New York's tough new academic standards for schools, teachers, and students will better prepare students for jobs and careers. At the same time, however, respondents said they remain concerned about recent high school graduates' preparedness for work.

The Business Council surveyed members in August and September on a wide range of issues that affect business conditions in New York. The 483 respondents represent large and small employers across the state in many industry sectors.

Key findings of the survey include:

Employers think New York's business climate has improved in the last five years - and that there is room for still more improvement. More than 85 percent strongly agreed (22.8 percent) or agreed somewhat (63.8 percent) that the business climate has improved. Only 11 percent disagreed somewhat (6.4 percent) or strongly disagreed (4.6 percent).

At the same time, more than 60 percent of respondents said New York's business climate is somewhat weaker than average (38.3 percent) or much weaker than average (23.8 percent). Sixteen percent of respondents said New York's business climate is much better than average (2.7 percent) or somewhat better than average (13.3 percent). Another 17 percent said New York's business climate is about average.

Employers believe that New York's new tougher academic standards will better prepare all students for jobs and careers. Nearly eight of 10 respondents agreed strongly (35.4 percent) or somewhat (41.6 percent). Another 12 percent disagreed somewhat; 5.6 percent strongly disagreed.

Employers remain concerned about recent high school graduates' preparedness for jobs and careers. Nearly one of five respondents (18 percent) strongly disagreed that recent high school graduates tend to be well prepared for the challenges of jobs and careers; another 38.7 percent disagreed somewhat. Another 31.3 percent of respondents agreed somewhat that these students are well-prepared for work; only 2.5 percent of respondents strongly agreed.

Employers want New York's colleges, universities, and research institutions to be national and global leaders in technology. More than 90 percent of respondents strongly agreed (64.2 percent) or agreed somewhat (29.8 percent).

Employers feel more confident about recent college graduates' preparedness for work. Nearly 70 percent of respondents agreed strongly (9.5 percent) or somewhat (59.6 percent) that recent college graduates tend to be well-prepared for work. Nearly 20 percent disagreed somewhat (17 percent) or strongly disagreed (2.9 percent).

Employers see significant improvement in the last five years in the overall effect of state government regulations. More than half of respondents think the overall effect of state regulations has improved a lot (6.4 percent) or somewhat (49.3 percent). About a quarter of respondents (24.6 percent) said the overall effect of state regulations has remained about the same. Only 15 percent of respondents say the overall effect of state regulations has worsened somewhat (12.6 percent) or a lot (2.5 percent).

Employers say attracting and retaining large corporations is a key to prosperity. More than 85 percent of respondents strongly agreed (48 percent) or agreed somewhat (36.4 percent) that New York's prosperity depends a great deal on how well it attracts and retains large corporate employers, and that attracting and retaining large corporations should be a top policy priority for the state. Only 13 percent disagreed somewhat (11 percent) or strongly disagreed (2.3 percent).

The view that attracting and retaining large corporations is a key to prosperity was strong among respondents of all sizes. More than nine of 10 respondents (94 percent) with more than 1,000 New York State employees strongly agreed or agreed somewhat; among employers of 50 or fewer New Yorkers, more than three-quarters (77 percent) strongly agreed or agreed somewhat.

Many employers think overall taxes have gone down, but most think the overall burden remains high. Nearly 40 percent of respondents said New York's combined state and local tax burden since 1994 has decreased somewhat (35.2 percent) or decreased a lot (1 percent). About one in five respondents (21.9 percent) said the overall burden has stayed about the same. Another 35 percent of respondents said that the combined burden has increased a lot (9.5 percent) or somewhat (26.9 percent).

Employers strongly agreed that major taxes, especially property taxes, remain high:

 

Employers believe that four benchmark costs of business remain high in New York compared to other states. Overwhelming majorities said New York has very or somewhat high costs of energy (92.5 percent), health care (83.7 percent), workers' compensation (85.9 percent), and unemployment insurance (75.6 percent).

Employers predict significant growth in Internet-based business. More than 60 percent of respondents said their firms' Internet-based business increased a lot (28.2 percent) or somewhat (34.6 percent) in the last two years. More than 80 percent of respondents said this business would increase a lot (37.9 percent) or somewhat (40.4 percent) in the next two years.

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