Business confidence down slightly since March

November 11, 1992|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

Business confidence about an improvement in the Baltimore-Washington economy dropped slightly over the past six months, according to a survey conducted by the Washington/Baltimore Regional Association.

Based on the response of 850 business executives in October, the economic development group said its business confidence index was 55.2, down from 57.4 in March. The index is based on the executives' responses to three questions regarding how their businesses were doing compared with six months earlier, how well they think they will be doing over the next year and whether the local economy will improve in that time.

Survey questionnaires were sent to 4,000 companies affiliated with the Washington/Baltimore Regional Association.

Robert T. Grow, executive director of the association, said the DTC results would probably be different today, now that the presidential electionwas over. "There is more certainty and there would be more business confidence," he said. "Business doesn't like uncertainty."

The majority of executives continued to be confident about their own operations, with 67 percent saying their business would improve in the next year. This was down from 77 percent in March.

Regarding how well they have done over the past six months, 39.4 percent in October said they had improved, down from 45.3 percent in March. Those thinking they were worse off increased to 24.7 percent from 22.6 percent in March. Those who thought they were in the same condition increased to 35.9 percent from 32.1 percent.

Joel G. Lee, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development, said he was encouraged by the level of confidence and discounted the 2.2-point drop in the index.

Last spring, Edmund B. Cronin Jr., chairman of the Washington/Baltimore Regional Association, said the March figures foretold good things for the economy. "Based on these and other data, I expect we will see a definitive break from the recession by September," he said then.

Mr. Cronin took a more cautious approach yesterday. "This seems to reflect the national trend," he said in a statement. "With the election behind us, within the next 90 days I expect to see the business confidence index moving up."

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