Forty-five percent of the owners of Pennsylvania's small to mid-sized businesses are optimistic about the future of their companies, according to the latest PNC Economic Outlook survey.
This is the highest level so far reported by the survey, which has been conducted for 12 years. Last fall, 36 percent of these 150 business owners across the commonwealth reported feeling optimistic. The survey asked participants to report how they feel about the future of the national and local economies within the next six months.
PNC's report also showed fewer business owners have a pessimistic outlook for the national economy compared to last fall, from 12 percent to 8 percent.
PNC Economist Kurt Rankin said part of the reason for the confidence might be because the major markets across the commonwealth -- Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg and Philadelphia -- are strong.
"All these markets are showing either consistent growth in adding jobs and therefore incomes and spending capacity, or actually improved over the past year," Rankin said.
This improvement could change the faces of these businesses. According to the survey, 27 percent of business owners expect to hire more employees in the next six months, an increase of 11 percentage points from last fall.
When asked about the latest federal tax reform, 44 percent of respondents said the U.S. economy will benefit, compared to 9 percent who thought it would have a negative effect. The remaining number of those surveyed said it would have not much impact or it was too early to tell.
Thirty-seven percent said the tax bill will have a positive effect on the bottom line of their businesses, while 11 percent expect a negative effect.