Firms not confident in Island economy, Chamber reveals

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Four out of five companies who responded to the latest Chamber of Commerce quarterly business trends survey said that they were pessimistic about the Island’s overall economy for the next 12 months.

he level of confidence in expected turnover and profit has also declined since the last quarterly survey.

When it comes to turnover, there has been a slight shift to the negative.

In the previous survey, 29 per cent of firms said they felt slightly optimistic whereas 22 per cent felt slightly pessimistic.

This time there is an even split, with 27 per cent of firms feeling slightly optimistic and the same number of firms now feeling a little pessimistic.

he change in confidence in profits has been more pronounced.

In the survey covering January to March, 29 per cent of recipients said they were slightly optimistic about increasing profits and 18 per cent were slightly pessimistic.

But in the latest survey, from April to June, the slightly optimistic figure has fallen to 23 per cent, the slightly pessimistic figure has increased to 30 per cent while the moderately pessimistic figure stays at 25 per cent.

owever, the survey is not all bad news.

Fifty-five per cent of firms report that their turnover was the same or better than the second quarter of 2002 and 59 per cent have seen profits remain steady or rise over the same period.

I think the survey reflects the many unanswered questions that people have at the moment,’ said Chamber president Bob Hassell.

‘There are a number of issues that people are concerned about, and until we have greater clarity they will continue to worry.

In many ways it is part of our culture to see the glass as half empty rather than half full.

We need to see strong political leadership to remove the uncertainty.

Although few would argue that things are rosy, this is not a nightmare scenario.

There seem to be two perspectives people have about Jersey.

The first is that life here has been fantastic for a long time but now we are going through an inevitable period of change; the other is that things have been okay but they are now getting worse.

I subscribe to the former view – Jersey has always adapted and survived and this is just another chapter in its evolution.

Mr Hassell pointed out that the survey was not representative of all sectors, but he was encouraged by the increase in respondents.

Twenty-two per cent of Chamber members completed this quarter’s survey – a significant improvement on the last quarter, when only nine per cent of the Chamber’s 524 members returned the questionnaire.

The 117 firms which replied employ 7,323 people, representing about one-sixth of all private-sector employees working for firms in Jersey.

uring the second quarter of 2003, 57 per cent of firms said their staffing levels had stayed the same over the last 12 months whereas 30 per cent said their workforce had decreased.

Only 13 per cent said they had taken on more staff.

hen it comes to wages, the average percentage increase is expected to continue its downward trend and rise by only 3.

per cent this year.

The transport and communications sector is anticipated to have the highest increase, at 4.

per cent, while the finance industry is at the opposite end of the scale, at 2.

per cent.

oncerning fees, the construction industry has decreased its charges over the last year by 1.

per cent while all other sectors have increased their fees by an average 1.

per cent.

The highest increase has been in the transport and communication sector, which has increased its charges by 3.

per cent.


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