Technology industry executives who responded to the fourth-quarter WisBusiness.com Tech Leaders Survey continued to temper how they rated the condition of the state’s economy – even as they ranked the prospects for their own companies as good.
Those same executives weighed in on the national health-care debate through three questions tied to Capitol Hill discussions of how to reform the current system.
Nearly 80 (77.9) percent of the executives who responded to the survey said that health care was a big (38.7 percent) or somewhat of a concern (39.2) when they and their company consider hiring new employees. Almost 16 (15.8) percent said health care was not much of a concern when considering new hiring. More than six (6.25) percent said health care wasn’t a concern at all when considering hiring new employees.
The cost of care was by far the most important health care concern of the technology executives who responded to the survey. More than three-quarters (79.8 percent) said cost was their biggest concern regarding health care in America as it is today. Almost 13 (12.6) percent of respondents said access to care was their biggest health care concern. Nearly eight (7.6) percent said the quality of health care was their biggest concern.
Respondents were asked whether their biggest concern (cost, access or quality) would get better, stay the same or get worse, if the health care reform plan proposed by President Obama and the congressional Democrats passes. A near majority (48.1 percent) of those who said cost was their biggest concern (n=189) believe that the cost of health care will get worse if the health care reform plan passes. A quarter (26.5 percent) said it will get better and another quarter (25.4 percent) believe health care costs will stay the same.
Three-quarters (75.9 percent) of those whose biggest concern regarding the health care system is access to care (n=29) believe that access will get better, if the health care reform plan passes. Twenty (20.7) percent said access to health care would get worse; 3.5 percent said it would stay the same. One-hundred percent of those who said the quality of care is their biggest health care concern (n=17) said that the quality of health care would get worse, if the health care reform plan passes.
“The fourth-quarter Tech Leaders Survey points to continuing concern in the Wisconsin’s technology industry about the condition of the state’s economy,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “Behind the concern for Wisconsin’s economy, however, there is entrepreneurial optimism that is serving these executives’ companies, their industries and the state well during the recession.
Still noted that survey respondents are concerned about health-care costs and are skeptical about whether a federal health-care reform bill will help control costs.
“Health care is an issue that concerns more than three-quarters of the industry’s executives as they considering hiring new people,” Still said. “Roughly the same percentage of tech leaders said cost is their biggest concern with the health care today and that it will stay the same or get worse, if the health reform plan passes.”
On the general state economy, about 19 percent of survey respondents rated Wisconsin’s economy as poor, while 69 percent rated the state’s economy as only fair. About 12 percent believe the state’s economy is good. None of those who responded to the survey rated Wisconsin’s economy as excellent.
Forty-four percent of those industry executives who responded to this quarter’s survey believe that economic conditions in Wisconsin will get better during the next year, a decline of nearly 10 percentage points from the previous, third-quarter survey. The number of executives who believe the state’s economic condition will stay the same during the next 12 months increased more than 12 percentage points to 46 percent. Nearly 10 percent of survey respondents believe the state’s economy will get worse during the next year.
The quarterly WisBusiness.com Tech Leaders Survey gauges the perceptions of senior executives in four Wisconsin technology industries: information technology, biotechnology and medical devices, advanced manufacturing, and clean technology and agricultural biotechnology. It measures the executives’ ratings on four key business indicators, including the condition of the state’s economy, their industry, their company and the capital markets. The survey is a project of the Wisconsin Technology Council, in partnership with WisBusiness.com, a Madison-based online business news service, and the Luminis Group, Ltd., a Madison-based corporate and marketing communications firm. The survey was conducted from Dec. 17, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010, and collected responses from 235 technology company executives from across Wisconsin.
Prospects for own company
Survey respondents continued to express optimism about the prospects for the companies they help to run. Nearly 70 percent of those who responded to the survey rate the overall prospects for their own companies as good (51.0 percent) or excellent (18.7 percent). More than a quarter (27.4 percent) of survey respondents rate those prospects as only fair and three percent (2.9 percent) rate them as poor. Seventy percent (70.4) of the executives who responded to this quarter’s survey believe things will get better during the next year for the company they run. A quarter (25.4 percent) said things will stay the same for their company during the next 12 months. Ratings of the executives’ companies’ prospects have remained relatively constant since the first Tech Leaders Survey in June 2009.
Executives in Wisconsin’s advanced manufacturing sector who responded to the fourth-quarter survey continue to rate the condition of their industry as worse than executives in the other three sectors do. More than a quarter (26.2 percent) of advanced manufacturing executives said the condition of their industry is poor, an increase of four percentage points from the Tech Leaders first survey last June.
Biotechnology and medical device executives continued to rate their industry most highly. Forty-three (43.0) percent of biotech and medical devices executives who responded to the most recent survey rated their industry as good, nearly eight percentage points higher than the previous quarter. Sixty-one (61.5) percent of clean tech and ag-bio executives who responded to the survey rated the condition of their industry as only fair, largely unchanged from last quarter’s survey, but a significant increase from first survey.
More than a quarter (28.7 percent) of the information technology executives who responded to the survey rated the condition of their industry as good. But almost two-thirds (63.2 percent) of those info tech executives rated the condition of their industry as only fair.
There was a significant shift in perceptions about the future of the executives’ industry. Forty-two (42.1) percent of those who responded to the survey said the condition of their industry will get better during the next 12 months, an eight percentage point decrease from last quarter’s survey. There was a corresponding quarter-to-quarter increase to 52.1 percent in the percentage of survey respondents who said their industry would stay the same during the next year. Six (5.8) percent believe the condition of their sector will worsen during the coming year.
Availability of capital
Ratings of the availability of capital have remained largely the same since the survey’s launch last year. Nearly half (45.0 percent) of those tech sector leaders who responded to the survey rated the availability of capital as poor. Another third (34.0 percent) rated the availability of capital as only fair. Eighteen (17.6) percent rated it as good.
Nearly three-quarters (72.8 percent) of survey respondents believe the availability of will stay the same or get worse during the next year. Twenty-seven (27.2) percent believe capital availability will improve during the next 12 months.
About the WisBusiness.com Tech Leaders Survey
The WisBusiness.com Tech Leaders Survey is a quarterly, statewide survey of senior executives in the information technology, biotechnology and medical device, advanced manufacturing, and clean technology and agricultural biotechnology industries. The survey is a project of the Wisconsin Technology Council, WisBusiness.com and the Luminis Group, Ltd. The survey questionnaire is administered by e-mail and Web-based survey technology. This quarter’s survey was fielded from Dec. 17, 2009-Jan. 7, 2010, (n=235, 25.8 percent response rate). Respondents represent a geographic, developmental and disciplinary cross-section of the state’s technology industry. The survey is conducted by the Luminis Group, Ltd., Madison, Wis., using generally accepted methodology, including non-biased question wording and order, response category randomization, where appropriate, and uncompensated respondent participation.