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Chicago Business Owners See Limited Effect From Obamacare, Minimum Wage Hike

The Business Owners Confidence survey for the first half of 2014 indicates that Chicago-area mid-sized business owners are taking Obamacare in stride and expect limited effects of national and state efforts to raise the minimum wage.

The survey, jointly conducted by MB Financial Bank and Cole Taylor Bank, reported that more than 50% of the local business leaders have taken no action as a result of the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act. Financial services and professional firms were the least likely to take action while construction and manufacturing companies more likely to make changes due to the Act’s implementation. Of those which have taken action, 31% are making employees pay a greater share, with that number rising to nearly 50% for companies in the construction business. The survey indicated that 27% are reducing coverage or changing carriers. Companies with sales of $5 million or less were more likely to take no action (61%) than were the larger companies surveyed.

Similarly, 67% of the respondents foresee no significant impact if the minimum wage were to increase from the current $8.25 to a proposed $10.00. As would be expected, financial services, professional and other services firms expect the smallest impact while construction and manufacturing expect more of an effect. The survey also indicated that some businesses plan to pass those increased costs to consumers (20%) or reduce staff or hours (15%).

The middle-market decision makers responding to the survey expressed growing optimism over the current state of the US economy for the fourth consecutive time, with 34% of respondents giving the national economy a good rating. Local economic conditions were rated good by 24% of the respondents while only 4% rated Illinois’ economic policies as good.

Businesses planning to expand in the next twelve months totaled 49% of the respondents. Of those planning to expand, nearly 60% expressed interest in expanding outside Illinois.

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