Accounting firm AVZ launched its annual economic survey and opinion poll in 1994 as a way to take the pulse of local business and, hey, if it happened to generate a little buzz for the practice, so much the better. Since then, the survey has become required reading for business people trying to gauge the local economic climate and a favored source for local pols, economic development agencies, the media and others. More from AVZ managing partner Bob Quarté as the 23rd running of the survey gets underway:
SURVEY SAYS: The survey’s usually 33 questions or so, with five or six new ones rotated in each year and a few fun ones thrown in for good measure. So there’s really 20+ core questions, the ones we’ve been asking for more than 20 years now and have pretty deep historical data from. We ask questions about general demographics, business conditions, headcount, revenue and profits, whether companies are giving raises, thinking of relocating. We ask about real estate, global conditions and market activity.
STAYING PUT: One of the biggest changes over the years has been in the number of companies saying they would consider leaving Long Island. Back in the mid-90s, coming out of a recession and with the local economy trying to redefine itself, the number was 17 percent of all respondents. It was 1 percent last year, a really impressive show of regional loyalty. Another has been the Island’s perception about what is the best growth industry for the region, and for years and years it was technology. Last year, health care emerged as the leader, with votes from 43 percent of respondents. Technology’s still there, but it’s dropped to 34 percent.
HOW WE RATE: The survey also collects data for a pair of economic confidence ratings, a “How are you feeling?” about the local and national economy on a scale of 1 to 10. The highest national number was back during the dot-com boom, in 1999 and 2000, when it was 7.2. The lowest – and you’d guess this – was 4.9 in 2008 when the survey went out right in the middle of the financial crisis. Last year, national confidence increased from 5.8 to 6.1. Locally it went from 5.7 to 6.1.
THEY KNOW THEIR POLITICS: Although there were almost two dozen presidential hopefuls in the running as last year’s poll went out, respondents correctly winnowed the field to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Beyond that, 47 percent predicted that we will welcome President Clinton, while 23 percent said the honor would go to Trump. We’ll see how close they came very soon.
PRINT IS NOT DEAD: The survey has grown from a couple of stapled pages to a glossy, four-color piece with really great graphics. The results will be revealed early next year at an executive breakfast – it’s Thursday, Jan. 5 at the Crest Hollow Country Club – followed by a discussion with a panel of business leaders. The HIA also does a later event built around the survey, as have other groups over the years. We do the polling completely online now and would probably stop printing the results if people would stop asking for boxes of copies.
BOTTOM LINE: The survey gets regular news coverage and is very popular with elected leaders looking for economic news from inside the business community. It’s obviously been a great marketing tool over the years, as well.
OH, AND: The first 100 respondents automatically receive a $20 Starbucks gift card and everyone who responds is eligible for a raffle to win an Acer Laptop/Tablet. So hurry.