Florida business owners feel optimistic about the coming year.
That’s according to the recent JPMorgan Chase Business Leaders Outlook survey, which showed that about 91 percent of owners of the state’s small- and medium-sized businesses expect local economic conditions to be favorable in 2018.
Nationally, the level of business optimism about local economies was 75 percent.
"Business optimism translates to business activity, which is why we’re seeing increased expectations across the board," said JPMorgan Chase senior economist Jim Glassman in a prepared statement.
"For businesses that can hire and retain talent in today’s tight labor market, there are growth opportunities to capitalize on."
The survey included leaders from 2,640 companies around the country. It found that the vast majority — 92 percent — of participating Florida companies expect to see a boost from last year’s tax reform, with 20 percent anticipating to benefit "to a great extent."
About 43 percent of Sunshine State businesses plan to use their savings on capital expenses, while 40 percent will put the funds toward debt. Another 34 percent said they’ll use the tax break to increase wages.
But the outlook for Florida’s business owners isn’t all sunny. About 40 percent said they were "extremely or very concerned" with the lack of skilled candidates available to hire. Technical and trade-based positions have been the hardest to fill, the survey said, followed by professional and management jobs.
Owners pointed to a lack of specific skills needed, a dearth of applicants and the poor work ethic of applicants as possible reasons for the shortage.
Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.