The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 11, 2011

Local residents optimistic about economy, survey finds

Bernie Hornick

— The optimism level in Greater Johnstown, economically speaking, is off the charts compared with Pennsylvania residents and Americans as a whole, a new study reveals.

Fully 67 percent of local residents are optimistic or moderately so, several hundred politicos and business leaders learned at Thursday’s annual Economic Summit, sponsored by the Greater Johnstown/ Cambria County Chamber of Commerce.

“This might be the brightest spot in the whole survey,” Pitt-Johnstown associate professor John McGrath said in presenting the 18th Economic Climate Study, along with associate professor Ron Vickroy.

The numbers indicate the level of optimism statewide is 53 percent and, on a national scale, a puny 31 percent.

The report paints a picture of economic constancy – with company forecasts for 2012 capital spending and revenues little changed from this year.

Hiring more diffuse

Yet local hiring is expected to be sharply lower in 2012 – with a projected 473 job seekers being added to payrolls, versus 917 projected for this year.

The actual number hired this year to date has been 500.

The percentage of companies hiring will rise from 19 percent this year to 37 percent in the next. About 174 firms – out of 772 in the Cambria County chamber – took part in the questionnaire.

“More of us will be hiring, but in smaller numbers,” McGrath said.

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