SEATTLE—Economic storm clouds seem to be brewing for the greater Seattle area, according to business executives surveyed here by Washington State University in the second quarter of this year. The average respondent reported less optimism than previous quarters for sales, financing and employment.
“Though most participants indicated their optimism was increased from quarter 1 (of 2011), the strength of that optimism was much less than the previous quarters,” said Andrew Cassey of the WSU School of Economic Sciences. “And though not the majority, a substantial number of survey participants expressed negative or strongly negative outlooks for the greater Seattle economy. Economic uncertainty continues to be the primary business concern.”
Of particular importance to those surveyed was real estate, Cassey said. Most respondents are not willing to pay what was recently the average rental price in the greater Seattle area, but slightly more respondents expect that rental rates will increase in the next year compared to the number of respondents who expect rates to decrease.
“More than half of the responses said they are currently satisfied with the amount of space they have,” he said. “Of those not satisfied, 60 percent said the reason was due to economic conditions.”
The second-quarter report also contains information on the business characteristics of survey participants. Most respondents represent businesses with less than 10 employees. About 15 percent are large businesses employing more than 250. Most are located in Seattle proper, but many are also dispersed throughout the Puget Sound area. By far, most respondents are in the service industry.
The Greater Seattle Economic Outlook Survey, started in July 2008 by WSU’s School of Economic Sciences, WSU’s IMPACT Center and the Seattle Executives Association, gathers information on general business conditions specific to greater Seattle and how national and international events and policies affect those conditions.
Complete survey results are available at http://www.impact.wsu.edu/survey/2011_Q2.pdf.