The Siena College Research Institute recently published its annual survey of upstate business leaders in New York, revealing a pessimistic outlook on the state’s economy. CEOs cited factors such as rising inflation, a tight labor market, increased borrowing costs, and potential minimum wage hikes as reasons for their concerns.
Siena College Research Institute Director Don Levy noted that CEO confidence has dropped significantly from a year ago, reaching levels only seen during the 2020 low point and the 2008 Great Recession. The survey found that only one in five CEOs believe conditions will improve, while about half predict they will worsen.
According to the survey, 33% of company leaders plan to expand their workforce, down from 44% last year. Additionally, 82% of respondents believe there is a shortage of adequately trained workers. A majority of CEOs (61%) think that raising the upstate minimum wage from $14.20 to $15 would negatively impact the economy.
New York state lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul are currently considering changes to the minimum wage in the state budget. Hochul proposes tying the minimum wage to inflation, while lawmakers want to increase base pay before indexing it to the cost of living.
New York’s economy has struggled to recover jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, with labor force participation hovering around 60%. While the Democratic-led Assembly and state Senate have not explicitly backed a wage hike to $21.25 in the coming years, top Democrats hope to reach a resolution soon.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie emphasized the need for a uniform minimum wage and higher wages for home care workers. However, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay highlighted the survey results and the state’s population decline as evidence that drastic action is needed.
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