News Column

CPAs Predict Little Change in OK Business Climate

Dec. 28, 2012

Laurie Winslow

Many certified public accountants expect little change for the state's business climate in 2013, according to the 2013 Oklahoma Economic Outlook Poll.

The survey taken among members of the Oklahoma Society of CPAs shows that 50.1 percent said Oklahoma's business climate will stay the same; 38.2 percent said it will improve; and 11.2 percent said it will decline next year.

The poll was emailed to 4,720 OSCPA members and conducted online.

Survey responses were accepted from Nov. 28 to Dec. 14. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Gary Crouch, president and CEO of CS3 Technology in Tulsa, is among the survey participants who expect Oklahoma's business climate to stay the same next year. But he also expressed concern.

"We are sacrificing education of our current and future workforce for immediate tax relief and job importing," Crouch said in a written statement from the OSCPA. "If we don't have skilled labor, the jobs will go unfulfilled."

When it came to the state's overall economy in 2013, CPAs were nearly split, with 41.2 percent saying it will improve versus 42 percent expecting it be unchanged.

A small percentage, 15.5 percent, said Oklahoma's economy will get worse next year, up from 8 percent who made the same prediction for 2012.

Out of 12 sectors, energy claimed the most votes from CPAs as an area that will see economic improvement in 2013. Information technology and health care came in second and third, respectively, in the survey.

Marvin Krueger, a consultant in Tulsa, was cautiously optimistic about the economy, noting that it will improve if the federal government acts responsibly, but that over-regulation will kill the economy.

The OSCPA also quotes Neil Jay, a managing shareholder with Jay & Associates PC in Tulsa, who commented in the survey:

"I believe personal-service industries are growing and generating more fees, but I feel health-care costs are becoming a major concern. I have doubts about smaller retail and restaurants being able to keep up with rising costs."

In the survey, 44 percent of the CPAs said Oklahoma's employment picture will get better, down from 55 percent for 2012. Almost half, 47.7 percent, said the state's job market will stay the same, and 7.9 percent think Oklahoma will see fewer jobs.

According to the survey, 35.2 percent of respondents ranked tax reform and the "fiscal cliff" federal budget stalemate as the most important concern facing the state.

From a nationwide perspective, the federal deficit and government spending ranked as the top concern, followed by tax reform and the fiscal cliff, partisan politics and ineffective leadership.

Health care-Medicare-Medicaid funding ranked as the fourth most important issue facing the country, according to the survey.

Tom Daxon, an instructor at the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University, added "horizontal drilling regulation" as a top issue, saying he would rank that as the No. 2 or No. 3 concern.

Basker Johnson, a shareholder with Basker Johnson & Associates Inc. in Tulsa, said one of America's top concerns should be its definition of "small business."

"Taxable profits over $500,000 is not small business," he told the OSCPA in comments accompanying the survey.

"We need to be concerned with those with profits less than $150,000." OSCPA's 2013 Oklahoma Economic Outlook Poll

--50.1 percent of CPAs surveyed think state's business climate will stay the same

--41.2 percent expect economy to improve

--44.4 percent expect employment to get better

--44 percent expect energy sector to see the most economic improvement

--35.2 percent ranked tax reform and the "fiscal cliff" as state's top concern


Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2012 Tulsa World (Tulsa, Okla.)

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