Homelessness Now Top Concern for LA County Businesses, Taxes and Fees Remain High

The Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) shared data today from the annual Pulse Poll conducted to gauge the temperature of business and identify the most pressing business concerns and issues they’ll face in the next 12 months.

Data collected by BizFed indicates that for the first time in at last 10 years, “Homelessness” was identified as the number one concern, with more than three-quarters of all respondents (76.5%) calling it “extremely critical.” Another 19.6% called it “somewhat or moderately critical.” Homelessness ranked number three in last year’s BizFed Pulse Poll and number nine in 2018 – highlighting the issue’s growing importance among Los Angeles’ business community.

Although “Taxes and Fees” ranked second overall in the current survey, the issue was identified as “extremely critical” or “moderately critical” by the highest number of respondents – 97.0% vs 96.1% for homelessness.

The biggest issue that climbed up the Pulse Poll rankings was “Crime,” which jumped from number twelve last year to number three this year. This issue has not ranked in the top three since the Great Recession as this poll reported in January 2008.

“One of the most concerning pieces of data highlighted in this survey is the fact that nearly 40% of businesses anticipate significantly lower hiring in the coming year” said Tracy Hernandez, BizFed Founding CEO. “The anticipated drop in hiring, compounded with the economic impact to business operations can be directly tied back to the COVID-19 pandemic and the flurry of policies that do little to assist or make it easier for businesses to reopen, rehire and recover.”

“Legislative Gridlock” at the state and/or federal level climbed from ten last year to four in 2020. More than six in ten respondents (62.4%) rated it as an “extremely critical” concern, up from 43.7% last year. This concern ties directly to homelessness and crime, as BizFed and its members strive to advance anti-poverty initiatives in partnership with all levels of government that can increase local investment and employment and alleviate these growing problems.

“The significant rise in “Legislative Gridlock” speaks volumes about the challenging business conditions in Los Angeles County and statewide,” added David Fleming, BizFed Founding Chair. “Businesses who collectively employ millions in the Los Angeles region continue to believe that our voices are not heard and our solutions are too often ignored at the local, state and federal levels. And, once again, we see stalemates holding our job-creating industries hostage.”

This year, due to the COVID-19-driven realities facing most employers, the categories of tele-learning, tele-work and tele-health were added to the survey. These issues ranked 17th, 20th and 21st, respectively, with 73 to 78% of respondents identifying these as extremely critical or moderately critical.

The issue with the biggest decrease in terms of importance to Los Angeles County businesses was support for “Public Infrastructure – roads, rail, bridges, waterways, etc.” which dropped from second in importance last year to 14th this year. Also dropping significantly was “Transportation,” which was eighteenth this year and six in 2019. The drop in these two issues may be attributable to decreased use of transportation and dramatically reduced commuting by employees during the pandemic.

“Homelessness is such a visible issue in Los Angeles County, one that’s only grown worse during the pandemic,” concluded Sandy Sanchez, BizFed Chair. “It’s clear that the region’s business leaders want a solution to this pressing problem of endemic poverty – which ties directly to our region’s high cost of living – and we need our decision-makers to join BizFed in investing in a better economic climate that not only boosts business but also alleviates poverty and homelessness.”

The findings are based on the annual 2020 Pulse Poll completed by the Los Angeles County Business Federation from October 2, 2020, and November 9, 2020. The survey garnered 371 business responses throughout Los Angeles County. 84% of the respondents derived from small businesses with 1 – 100 employees and 14% from large business with 101 or more employees. More than 56% of respondents are CEO’s, Presidents and Owners.

Submitted by Paola C. Flores, Communications Manager