PULLMAN, Wash. – Average business conditions in western Washington haven’t really changed much since the second quarter of 2009, but business conditions in the greater Seattle area look better than they have for more than a year, according to business executives who participated in a recent survey by Washington State University and the Seattle Executives Association.
On average, survey respondents reported their sales, inventory, financing and employment were all “stagnant to declining,” according to the survey report generated by the WSU School of Economic Sciences and SEA. However, “despite the lack luster aggregate reports, the key indices show more optimism than they have for over a year,” the report says.
Justin Taylor, economic impact analyst at WSU, attributed that optimism to positive sales and a corresponding inventory response. “For the first time more businesses reported increasing sales and inventory levels than declining levels” he said.
Economic uncertainty continued to be the No. 1 concern of the business leaders surveyed, followed by health care expenses and domestic competition. Those concerns do not negate optimism for the future, however. The overall optimism index, which is a composite measure of positive and negative responses to general market conditions, rose from its lowest point of negative .34 in the fourth quarter of 2008 to positive .08 for the third quarter of 2009. Indicating that almost 10 percent more of the respondents saw business conditions improve during the past quarter.
Not even pandemic influenza dampens the positive outlook – 75 percent of the respondents say they have a business continuity plan capable of handling the impact of a pandemic outbreak.