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 NEW YORK, Nov. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Growth company CEOs are more concerned about the government as a barrier to the growth of their businesses than they are about the economy, according to the most recent "Trendsetter Barometer" by Coopers & Lybrand, the international professional services firm.
 Survey respondents said the biggest barriers to their companies' growth over the next 12 months are government-related: three-quarters cite fears of increased taxation, and almost two thirds (65 percent) are concerned about increased legislative or regulatory pressures. Almost 6 in 10 (58 percent) express concern about soft market demand, and a growing segment, 42 percent, cite decreasing profit margins as a potential barrier.
 "Concerns about the impact of new taxes and new healthcare policies have been building since last January, and they outweigh all others," notes George Auxier, national director of entrepreneurial advisory services for Coopers & Lybrand.
 Consistent with their concerns, "Trendsetter" CEOs have scaled back corporate growth projections to an average of 21.8 percent over the next 12 months, a reduction of 9 percent. Similarly, fewer "Trendsetter" firms plan to add employees in the upcoming 12 months: 67 percent, down from 72 percent in July.
 "I would speculate that every recommendation for a new hire will be closely evaluated in light of headcount implications for healthcare," says Auxier.
 Only 6 percent of "Trendsetter" companies will reduce personnel, however, and the remaining 27 percent plan to stay the same. Overall, "Trendsetter" companies expect a 14.3 percent increase in their composite workforce over the next 12 months, a figure higher than July but lower than January and April expectations (both 15 percent).
 "Trendsetter" CEOs continue to express concerns about decreasing profit margins as a barrier to growth. Although the number of respondents is up only slightly from the previous quarter (42 percent), it is substantially higher than the 33 percent who voiced this concern last January.
 "Disinflation may be a factor as `Trendsetter' companies attempt to stimulate market demand by cutting prices and margins," says Auxier. "But the fact remains that government is perceived as a bigger -- and growing -- problem."
 "Trendsetter" executives also continue to express concern about the outlook for the U.S. economy as a whole over the next 12 months: only 35 percent have an optimistic view, unchanged from three months earlier. Another 43 percent say the outlook is uncertain (an increase of four percentage points from the previous quarter), and 22 percent remain pessimistic.
 "These results indicate that perceptions about the economy have stabilized," says Auxier. "While optimism hit a high point of 73 percent in January with the promise of a new President, it soon plummeted to this level, where it has remained since the summer."
 Coopers & Lybrand's "Trendsetter Barometer" is developed and compiled by the firm's Entrepreneurial Advisory Services Group with assistance from the opinion and economic research firm of Business Science International. At each Coopers & Lybrand office, an Entrepreneurial Advisory Services team is available to serve the needs of growing and midsize companies.
 One of the world's leading professional firms, Coopers & Lybrand provides services for enterprises in a wide range of industries. The firm offers its clients the expertise of more than 16,000 professionals and staff in offices located in 100 U.S. cities and more than 66,000 people in 120 countries worldwide.
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 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Graphic art available upon request. Coopers & Lybrand's "Trendsetter Barometer" interviewed CEOs of 395 product and service companies identified in the media as the fastest growing U.S. businesses over the last five years. The surveyed companies range in size from approximately $1 million to $50 million in revenue-sales./
 /CONTACT: Maggie O'Donovan Bolton of Coopers & Lybrand, 212-536-3174/

CO: Coopers & Lybrand ST: New York IN: FIN SU: ECO

SH-LG -- NY047 -- 6829 11/22/93 11:57 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 22, 1993

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