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PNC survey: Business owners still cautious

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Business owners in Pennsylvania and nationwide have mixed feelings about the state of the economy and remain cautious overall, according to the PNC Financial Services Group Inc.'s spring economic outlook.

Among survey respondents, one in five was optimistic and one in five was pessimistic about their businesses’ prospects over the next six months, the Pittsburgh-based banking and financial conglomerate said. One third said they are holding back on hiring until the economy improves, and just 14 percent said they planned to hire full-time employees, down from 18 percent a year ago.

On the other hand, two-thirds said they planned to make capital investments in the next six months, similar to the 64 percent who said so a year ago. Eighteen percent said they planned to take on a new loan or line of credit, up from 15 percent a year ago.

The results reflect “a continued moderate but persistent economic and jobs growth expansion in 2013,” PNC said.

One bright spot was housing, with 41 percent saying they expect home prices to rise in Pennsylvania over the coming year.

Nationwide, 71 percent of business owners surveyed reported optimism about their local economies, and 58 percent were optimistic about the national economy. In Pennsylvania, those figures were 57 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

Artemis Strategy Group conducted the telephone survey on PNC’s behalf, interviewing 1,718 respondents between mid-January and mid-February, including 150 in Pennsylvania. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points for national results, plus or minus 8 percentage points for state ones.


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