RENO, Nev. - Employers in northern Nevada feel optimism about the outlook for 2013, and they are quick to say so.
Nearly half the business owners and managers from Nevada who responded to a survey conducted by the Employers Association of America said they expect to see a slight uptick in sales this year, and another 12 percent said they're projecting a significant increase in revenues.
"What's not to like about that?" says James Nelson, executive director of the association. "That's pretty telling."
And the sales increases are likely to result in job growth.
About 21 percent of the surveyed companies said they plan to increase staffing sometime during 2013, with much of the project hiring scheduled for the spring and summer months.
The companies that participated in the survey were both members and non-members members of the Nevada Association of Employers.
But group's membership is predominately from northern Nevada, and the results largely reflect the attitudes of executives in Reno-Sparks, Carson City and the mining communities of northeastern Nevada, said Nelson.
Nelson said last week he was particularly impressed by the willingness of employers in the region to share their outlook for 2013.
The 162 responses from Nevada companies accounted for nearly 10 percent of the responses received by the Employers Association of America nationwide.
While many of the northern Nevada executives said they expect to increase the size of their companies' staffs next year, they noted some problems in recruitment of skilled workers.
Among the most-difficult-to-fill positions, the respondents said, are skilled production workers (cited as a problem area by 32 percent of the respondents) and non-management professional staff (a problem for 31 percent).
Those difficulties, in turn, mean that companies often are looking inward to fill vacancies rather than recruiting from the 10 percent of the region's workforce that's unemployed.
Some 35 percent of the respondents, for instance, said their companies are filling vacancies with existing staff members who appear to have potential even if they are lacking all the skills they need.
Other executives said they've focused more on retention of skilled staff and provision of training to help existing employees grow into new positions.
Compensation strategies also reflect the optimism of managers who participated in the survey.
Nearly 57 percent said their companies expect to increase wages and salaries this year, and more than 38 percent said they expect that their companies will pay some sort of bonus award this year.
But about 20 percent said their companies expect to freeze, or even reduce, wages this year.
Roughly 7 percent of the executives said they expect layoffs at their companies this year.
About 22 percent, meanwhile, said they will shift a higher percentage of health-care costs to employees.