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Survey of businesses shows expectations of growth

Mid-Atlantic job-seekers down on their luck may see a rise in opportunity over the next half year if a study from the M&T Commercial Banking Division proves correct.

The semi-annual study, by M&T regional economist Gary Keith, showed increased optimism about the economy among mid-size companies and real estate investors across the mid-Atlantic region, New York and Pennsylvania.

Of the mid-size companies surveyed, 45 percent said they think the economy has improved in the last six months, up from 18 percent a year ago and the highest percentage since 2009.

Commercial real estate firms surveyed were even more optimistic — 58 percent said the economy was better in the last half-year, while only 4 percent said it was worse. That’s a big change from this time last year, when those numbers were 25 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

Overall, significantly more of the companies surveyed expect the national economy to improve in the coming months, representing a drastic change from their outlook in 2012.

When it came to hiring, one-third of the mid-size businesses said that they expect to add workers in the next six months, up six percentage points from one year ago and the highest percentage in the four-year history of this survey. Almost half of the businesses also expect to increase their capital spending modestly.

A majority of both the mid-market and commercial real estate firms surveyed tend to expect a slight increase in demand over the next six months.

Any number of factors could change the realities as those months play out, but the study refers to these responses as the start of a “modest momentum” and a more positive outlook on recovery from the Great Recession.