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CenterState CEO report: 39 percent of area firms expect to boost hiring this year, down 26 percent from 2020

By Eric Reinhardt (


CenterState CEO on Thursday released its 2021 Economic Forecast for Central New York. The virtual event also included remarks from Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO; Gary Keith, regional economist for M&T Bank; and New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. (Eric Reinhardt / CNYBJ file photo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A new report from CenterState CEO finds 39 percent of nearly 200 area companies surveyed expect an increase in jobs and hiring in 2021, down 26 percent from 2020 projections.

Nearly half those surveyed (44 percent) anticipate increased sales or revenue in 2021, also off 26 percent from the 2020 projections.

That’s according to the 2021 Economic Forecast for Central New York report that CenterState CEO released on Thursday. Baldwinsville–based Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) conducted the survey.

The report includes the perspectives and projections of CenterState CEO members and business leaders from across industry sectors, with data and insight on COVID-19 impacts and industry and employment trends.

Besides the hiring and revenue projections, the survey found 42 percent of firms expect to expand products and services in 2021, down 18 percent from the 2020 projections. And 34 percent anticipate they will increase capital investments, off 15 percent from last year’s projections.

The report also found 42 percent of respondents describing their expectations for the strength of their business in 2021 as “strong or very strong,” down 34 percent from a year ago.

The economic-development organization released the report during its annual Economic Forecast event on Thursday morning, which this year was held virtually amid the pandemic.


Regional outlook

In his keynote address, Gary Keith, regional economist at M&T Bank, provided an analytic assessment of national and regional economic trends from the past year, including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and provided a detailed outlook into 2021.

Keith says he believes the region has a “strong chance” for an economic recovery in mid to-late 2021.

“As with the nation overall, COVID-19 restrictions have put enormous strain on the CenterState economy,” Keith said. “The 2021 outlook will be driven by continued diligence in combating the virus and successful roll-out of community-wide vaccination programs. A return of normal daily mobility patterns, likely by mid-year, will reenergize economic activity and allow the region’s solid upward momentum in output and income to resume.”

In his remarks, Robert Simpson, president and CEO of CenterState CEO, highlighted the insights that this year’s forecasters shared, as well as his perspective on how the strategies that drove progress before the pandemic “will be central to the region’s recovery.”

“Like communities across the country, Central New York has faced a tumultuous year driven by the health and economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Simpson. “Our forecasters have made it clear that the stressors of the pandemic have created lingering challenges and hardships, and shaken confidence. For others, it has opened opportunities to innovate and expand products, services and operations. Amidst so much uncertainty, one thing is clear — our region’s pre-pandemic trajectory was put in motion by data-driven economic development strategies to guide its growth. Committing to that same strategic approach will be critical to advancing our continued recovery.”

New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul also addressed the audience to share the state’s vision for driving progress and recovery in the region, and across the state, in the year ahead.

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