Bank says Pa. business worrying more

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Philadelphia- and Allentown-area business leaders have turned pessimistic about sales and profit prospects, according to a survey that polled 251 in Philadelphia, suburban counties and the Allentown-Bethlehem area for First Niagara Bank (successor to Harleysville National.)

Only 30% say the economy will improve this year, down from 42% last year. A full 32% now say the economy will get worse this year, vs only 16% last year.

When it comes to their own businesses, 36% say revenues will increase this year, down from 46% last year. 22% say their sales will fall, up from 19%.

Re their profits: 30% expect their profits will be higher this year, down from 36% who said that last year. But 36% say their profits will fall, up from 26%. (The lag for profits vs. sales might be explained by the expectation of higher taxes.)

Only one-quarter of the group plans to hire this year, down from one-third last year. (1 in 10 plan to cut their workforce, similar to last year.)

By a margin of nearly 2 to 1, the leaders said business conditions were worse at the end of 2012, than in the middle of the year.

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