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Economy

Survey: Confidence Among Business Owners Continues To Decline

More business owners are optimistic than not about their firms for the next three months, though such confidence is continuing to decline, according to a survey released Thursday by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Results of questioning of 211 chamber members last month placed the organization's Business Outlook Index at 16.6, the fifth straight month with a decline.

The index ranges from minus-100 for extremely negative to zero for neutral to plus-100 for very positive.

"Although the BOI continues on a downward trend, we are optimistic that as businesses adjust to the many new employment laws going into effect in early 2016, county businesses will regain more of the optimism we saw in the early part of this year," said Dino D'Auria, executive vice president and chief banking officer for survey sponsor Silvergate Bank.

The survey asks respondents whether their business will increase or decrease the number of employees over the next three months, raise or lower the number of hours that employees work, see more or less revenue, and experience an improvement or a worsening of business conditions.

Answers to all four questions were more negative than before, and 18 percent think their industry's business conditions will worsen in the near future — the highest percentage since the survey began in July 2013, according to the chamber.

The business owners were also asked about the California Environmental Quality Act, which many business and political leaders want to reform. Of those surveyed, 43 percent supported CEQA reform, 35 percent were unsure and 17 were opposed.

Owners of firms with 50 or more likely to support CEQA reform, according to the chamber.

The survey was conducted Nov. 17-30 by a research firm.