Ohio’s CPAs are delaying their earlier prediction for when a sustainable U.S. economic recovery will begin, according to a new poll by the Ohio Society of CPAs.

Thirty-six percent of respondents to the poll predict a sustainable recovery will start in the second half of 2010, while 26 percent put the turnaround in the first half of 2011. In the 2008 poll, the overwhelming majority of poll participants forecast a sustainable recovery coming in the last half of 2009 or the first half of 2010 (62 percent).

In addition, 65 percent of CPAs responding this year felt Ohio unemployment rates have not yet peaked. Forty-eight percent believe it could take up to four years for the state to return to pre-recession unemployment levels of 5.8 percent recorded in December 2007.

Respondents were ambivalent concerning the effectiveness of the national stimulus packages at creating and retaining jobs in Ohio, with 26 percent saying the stimulus packages were neither effective nor ineffective, and 23 percent responding that they were somewhat effective.

With regard to plans in their own organizations for staffing over the next 12 months, 70 percent said they will maintain current staffing levels and only hire to refill vacancies. Only 9 percent expect to add new jobs and 18 percent will reduce the number of positions.

CPAs ranked health care costs (49 percent) and lending environment/sources of capital (42 percent) as the top two financial problems experienced by Ohio businesses right now.

In fact, 78 percent of CPAs said Ohio small businesses do not have access to adequate credit to sustain and grow their businesses. Seventy percent said they or their clients have been unable to borrow from an existing bank in the past year and 42 percent said their bank is no longer lending in their company’s industry sector.

Rising health care costs were another area CPAs identified as a top challenge for Ohio businesses. Shifting some of the burden of health care costs is a popular strategy. Fifty-two percent will increase the premium portion paid by employees; 44 percent plan to shop for different health care plans; and 35 percent will push greater management costs to employees through health savings accounts.

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