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Ohio Businesses Say Economy Isn't Good, But Optimistic For A Rebound

Restaurants and businesses on Grandview Avenue on May 14, 2020.
David Holm
Restaurants and businesses on Grandview Avenue on May 14, 2020.

Ohio’s businesses say they’re optimistic about the future of the economy, but the coronavirus pandemic continues to have them worried.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s Research Foundation second quarter survey of over 400 business leaders shows that three-quarters of businesses plan to add jobs, but the same number said the economic climate is fair or poor.

However, 68% also said they are optimistic about the economy. While that's a leap up from 31% in the chamber's first-quarter 2020 survey, it's a drop from the 90% in the survey in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s Justin Barnes said business groups have been key players in setting rules for reopening their sectors, but there’s something missing.

“What they are hoping for is that the government, whether it’s here in Columbus or in Washington D.C., continues to take the actions necessary to provide that economic certainty that the coronavirus pandemic will be getting under control," Barnes said.

The chamber's survey calculates what it calls the Prosperity Pulse index using anticipated profits and hiring, open positions, anticipated capital expenditures and overall business economic outlook.

This quarter's Prosperity Pulse index was 93, an increase from a historic low 51 in the last survey. But it's still off from the 118 in the fourth quarter of 2019, and way down from an all-time high of 139.9 in the third quarter of 2018.

As it did last quarter, economic uncertainty tops the list of concerns for business leaders. Ohio’s political environment is now number three on that list, after the scandal involving the nuclear bailout law and former House Speaker Larry Householder.