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Despite health care costs, workforce issues, Ohio business leaders optimistic

Special to the Legal News

Published: November 21, 2017

The cost of health care keeps some business leaders in central Ohio up at night.

Twenty percent of 115 central Ohio businesses polled said the cost of health care was their top concerned, according to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation's Prosperity Pulse survey for the third quarter.

The second top concern was workforce, or attracting quality talent, with 13.9 percent of businesses most concerned, followed by federal regulations (13 percent) and the cost of employee benefits (9.6 percent).

"The cost of health care (rises) again as the top issue of concern to business leaders. This increase was expected after the federal government stalled to make any changes to the Affordable Care Act," said Katie M. Koglman in the report.

But the executive director of the Research Foundation said 77 percent of Ohio business leaders believe the economic climate in the state is good to excellent with some optimistic for the final quarter this year.

The Research Foundation in partnership with Clout Research surveyed 404 business leaders in Ohio to determine the "economic pulse" of the state's economy.

They developed a 1-to-10 scale to measure profits, workforce, capital investments and expenses to aggregate an index.

A high score of 9.1 - 10 would mean Ohio businesses' economic health was robust, while a low score of 1 - 2 would mean they're economic health was weak.

For the third quarter, Ohio's economic health was scored a 5, or steady, down 0.1 point from the previous quarter. The main driver of the decrease was a decline in capital investments in that quarter, according to the report.

Capital investments were scored 4.7 in the third quarter compared with 5.2 in the previous quarter. They are projected to decline this quarter.

"This could signal a longer-term slow down," the report stated.

The Research Foundation also surveyed each business to rank 15 issues on a 1-to-10 scale with 10 as "very much concerned, keeps me up at night," according to its website.

The issues are federal regulations, state regulations, economic uncertainty, workforce, energy costs, competition, employee productivity, data security, global trade/markets, rising salaries and wages, political environment in Ohio, technology changes, health care costs, employee benefits costs and taxes.

Like central Ohio, health care costs and workforce were the top two issues of concern for Ohio with 19.6 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively, of the businesses most concerned.

They were followed by cost of employee benefits with 11.9 percent of businesses most concerned, followed by data security (12.9 percent) and federal regulations (11.9 percent).

"For the first time this year we saw a heightened concern about data security. This shouldn't be a surprise since 2017 has already surpassed the number of cyber hacks, leaks and breaches of 2016. It's a very valid concern. Awareness and education about cyber-security is an important issue and there are resources available for businesses throughout the state of Ohio, including the Ohio Attorney General's office," Koglman said.

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