Island businesses cautiously optimistic
Local business owners are cautious about the economy, but most remain optimistic about their own prospects, according to the February 2008 Bank of Hawaii Business Confidence Survey.
Overall confidence in the economy is down when compared to the last survey six months ago, reflecting concern about global financial markets.
But respondents still seem optimistic about prospects for their own businesses -- 32.3 percent expect higher sales, including 26.3 percent who expect somewhat higher sales and 6 percent much higher sales. Another 43.5 percent expect about the same level of sales, while 24.2 percent anticipate lower sales in the next 12 months.
However, only 7.5 percent of those surveyed in February expect a higher overall level of activity in the Hawaii economy during the next year compared to 22 percent in Bankoh's August 2007 survey.
A higher proportion of respondents, 57.5 percent, expects a lower level of economic activity in the next year compared to 35.2 percent in August.
Some 15.5 percent expect higher employment at their firms in the coming year, 63.1 percent expect about the same, and 21.4 percent anticipating lower employment.
"Most owners and managers know more about their businesses than the aggregate economy, perhaps because the economic news today sounds bleak," said Paul Brewbaker, Bankoh's chief economist.
He added, however, that it would be prudent for firms to consider the implications of a national economic slowdown.
The February survey received 295 responses to a mail-out of randomly selected firms from an independent business database by a third party. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.7 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.