WILKES-BARRE — Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber President and CEO Wico van Genderen expressed optimism in the region’s economic indicators Tuesday based on the results of a recently completed survey of chamber members.
“I’m seeing steady improvement in the overall business climate in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” van Genderen said, following the release of key statistics from the chamber’s 2018 Government Affairs Committee survey.
Respondents from 18 industries filled out the survey, in which they were asked about their own businesses, their hiring outlook, workforce trends and overall issues they see on the horizon.
• Eighty-eight percent of respondents feel the minimum wage should be increased from $7.25 per hour, with 32 percent suggesting $10 per hour and 27 percent suggesting $12 per hour.
• Sixty-eight percent of respondents said they have hired employees or added new positions in the past 12 months.
• Respondents overall felt the quality of available workers had increased over last year, but the availability of workers had gone down.
• At the same time, 80 percent of respondents felt that lack of problem-solving skills was an issue with potential hires; 79 percent cited a lack of soft skills/professionalism and 63 percent cited a lack of technical training skills.
• In another key trend, 50 percent of respondents said public transit was of importance to their workforce.
That echoes what van Genderen and his colleagues have been hearing as they engage in a systematic study of area employers’ workforce transportation needs.
Working with other area chambers, economic development organizations and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, van Genderen’s group has engaged in a study of commuting patterns that will be the subject of a forum next month.
Meanwhile, a full report containing economic survey information compiled by the local chamber, in conjunction with the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, will be released soon, officials said.
A graphic showing some of the highlights released this week can be found at https://bit.ly/2IFIO24.