Roseland, N.J. (Sept. 13, 2004) -- Business owners are bullish on the prospects for their own companies, moderately hopeful about the U.S. economy, and divided in their views on hiring for 2005, according to preliminary results of a study by accounting and consulting firm J.H. Cohn LLP.

Among 164 chief executives and other senior officers surveyed in J.H. Cohn's national Business Owners Checkup, 44 percent of respondents say that the events of Sept. 11, 2001 had a negative financial impact on their businesses, while 78 percent are upbeat about the prospects for their own companies in 2005.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) are hopeful about the U.S. economy in 2005, but only 58 percent of the executives in the New York/New Jersey region are optimistic about the national economy in 2005, compared with 71 percent in other states around the country.

Almost half (48 percent) expect to create jobs in 2005. Companies that describe themselves as in either the start-up or growing phase of their life cycle are more likely to add to staff (57 percent) than mature businesses (38 percent), J.H. Cohn reported.

"Business owners are understandably cautious in their outlook for the economy because it is subject to so many factors beyond their influence, including consumer confidence, oil prices, foreign exchange rates, the specter of international terrorism, and global political stability," says J.H. Cohn CEO Thomas J. Marino.

Business owners in the study cited three principal reasons why employment has lagged other measures that suggest the U.S. economy is improving: Gains in productivity have reduced the need to hire more people (38 percent); there's still too much pressure on profit margins to support hiring more people (29 percent); and businesses have been able to secure additional capacity through outsourcing (21 percent).

The complete survey results are scheduled for publication in mid-September.

-- WebCPA staff

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