BizFed poll spotlights reasons employers stay in California

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LOS ANGELES (June 12, 2023) – You can’t put a price tag on everything. Weather and family ties are the top reasons employers in Los Angeles County choose to stay in California despite the state’s challenging business climate, according to an annual business survey that identifies critical issues impacting jobs growth.

Employers who participated in the 2023 Pulse Poll conducted by the Los Angeles County Business Federation “BizFed” cited high taxes and fees, unworkable labor costs and restrictive business regulations as top reasons for leaving the state – and taking jobs with them.

“This was the first BizFed Pulse Poll that asked business leaders why they’re staying in California. There’s always chatter about what’s not working here; we wanted to better understand what is working. It’s notable that economic concerns are pushing employers out of the state, but the top reasons employers are staying have nothing to do with the region’s economic health or business policies,” said Tracy Hernandez, Founding CEO of BizFed.

Nearly 650 business leaders responded to BizFed’s 2023 Pulse Poll, its fifteenth iteration of the approximately 40-question annual survey. Approximately two-thirds of respondents reported feeling uncertain, pessimistic or very pessimistic about business during the next 12 months. Respondent pessimism nearly doubled from 2022 to 2023, and nearly quadrupled from 2021 to 2023.

Economic optimism dipped among Pulse Poll respondents for the second consecutive year, while business leaders also forecasted slower workforce growth in 2023. Inflation and supply chain disturbances could be contributing factors; 80% of respondents said the cost of business had increased more than they anticipated in 2023.

  • Respondents pointed to taxes and fees as their most critical concern. Following a decadelong run as the top concern among BizFed Pulse Poll respondents, taxes and fees fell to second place in 2020 and 2021, and fifth place in 2022.
  • Homelessness ranked first during those years; it fell to fourth place in 2023, perhaps reflecting the business community’s positive view of Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’s “Inside Safe” program, which housed more than 4,000 homeless individuals during her first 100 days in office.
  • Crime ranked second in 2023, followed by inflation, homelessness, energy cots, government regulation, interest rates, energy reliability, legislative gridlock and housing, in order of concern.

“If you look closely at historical Pulse Poll data, you’ll see many of the same business issues coming out on top over the years. What jumps out at us this year is crime jumping to second place, higher on the concern scale than we’ve ever seen it in 15 years. We need to be proactive with policy solutions. If employers, employees and customers don’t feel safe, businesses won’t grow and communities won’t thrive,” said John Musella, Chair of the BizFed Board of Directors.

Insights gleaned from the annual attitudes, issues and solutions poll also revealed red-alert shifts in post-pandemic transportation, recreation and workplace needs. Journalists can expect additional survey findings in the coming days, including rankings of this year’s most and least business-friendly cities. Deeper analysis available upon request.