Executives hopeful for market upswing

Bay Area executives remain grim about the local economy, according to a quarterly survey.

More than 80 percent say things are worse than they were six months ago and more than 70 percent say things will stay the same or get worse during the next six months, according to the Bay Area Council’s Confidence Survey.

On the positive side, however, the results of the survey show a slightly less negative outlook than in recent surveys. While the last survey found only 15 percent of executives expected economic conditions to improve in the next six months, 28 percent responded positively this time around.

There are also slightly more companies, 23 percent, saying they expect to increase their work force, than the 21 percent planning layoffs. More than half say they plan no changes in the next six months.

“It looks like we danced on the employment precipice and have come back from the edge,” said Jim Wunderman, the president and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “We are very pleased to see more CEOs hiring, but the negative sentiment of large companies still gives us pause.”

San Mateo County was notably more positive than the rest of the Bay Area, with 55 percent of employers there saying they expected to increase their work force and 45 percent saying they expected the local economy to improve.

Only 17 percent of employers in San Francisco expected to add employees, and 18 percent said they expected the local economy to improve.

Among local industries, construction and manufacturing showed the most growth, with 39 percent and 36 percent reporting they planned to hire new employees. At the other end of the spectrum, in government, 43 percent said they would decrease their work force, and in retail, 37 percent.

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