Connecticut’s economy continues to lag behind the national economic recovery according to a survey of state businesses released today.

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association’s Quarterly Economic Survey: First Quarter 2013 found that just 17% of surveyed businesses expect the state’s economy to improve, while almost a quarter (23%) saw the U.S. economy improving.

That outlook repeated a pattern from previous quarters, although half now forecast stability for the national economy, a 14 percentage point jump from the fourth quarter of last year.

Some 39% thought the state’s economy would remain stable, up from 34% the previous quarter.

“These numbers show a state economy that still has a long way to go to reach sustainable conditions,” said CBIA economist Pete Gioia.

Surveyed businesses were optimistic with their sales and production forecasts, with 39% predicting increases, while just 17% saw declines. More than a third (35%) saw conditions improving for their firms.

And about a quarter (24%) indicated they would add employees in the second quarter, with 15% expecting to shrink their work forces.

Gioia noted that the January 2014 deadline for complying with requirements of the federal Affordable Care Act was a “major concern” for the state’s businesses, with 87% of respondents predicting increased costs.

“Just one percent believe Obamacare will reduce compensation and benefit costs for their companies while 11% see no fiscal impact,” Gioia said.

“And it was quite telling that just 13% felt they had enough information to understand and comply with federal healthcare requirements.”

Other important responses from the latest quarterly survey:

  • 29% see improving conditions for their industry, while 20% see declines.
  • 37% predict increases in productivity, up from 30% the previous quarter.
  • 38% predict an increase in wage costs, while 59% see those costs remaining stable.
  • 36% forecast higher compensation and benefits costs, while 59% said they would stay the same.

CBIA’s Quarterly Economic Survey: First Quarter 2013 was emailed to approximately 1,900 Connecticut businesses in April 2013. A total of 221 responded, for a 11.6% response rate and a margin of error of +/- 6.7%.