HR2 Research/Analytics Presents the Washington Trust Bank Business Confidence Index for Quarter 1, 2017

HR2 Research/Analytics is proud to have produced Washington Trust Bank's Business Confidence Index since 1991. The research provides the results of Puget Sound business leaders' response to economic indicators both locally and nationally. Presented below is an abstract of the major findings from Quarter 1 of 2017.

Bellevue, WA, July 08, 2017 --( The results of the Quarter 1, 2017 Business Confidence Index, co-sponsored by HR2 Research/Analytics and Washington Trust Bank, are here. The prestigious economic index findings reported the highest this year than throughout its tenure. Recent rebranding for HR2, the premier Northwest-based researcher, reflects the increased demand for large databases and the application of new versions in the statistical sciences.

HR2 Research/Analytics and Washington Trust Bank’s Business Confidence Index, which began in 1991, is a critical economic forecasting index on the Washington State Economy. It is produced every quarter. The index is based on a panel of 200 CEO’s, CFO’s and management personnel representing companies within the State of Washington. The 2017 Q. 1 research included business leaders whose companies were located in the Seattle-metro business fractal. The following are the conclusions of the local business confidence research in the first quarter of 2017.

The hypothesis that the Puget Sound economy closely follows national trends was tested. The research found that this was no longer true, as it had been in previous quarters. When the Puget Sound economy was largely dominated by the wood products and aerospace sectors, there may have been a correlation between the local and national economy. Now, with the diversity and growth of Northwest business segments within technology, the biological sciences, warehouse retail, leaders such as Amazon and thousands of successful Northwest startups, including Voicebox, INRIX and online travel services, this is no longer the case. 90% of respondents noted that the Puget Sound economy outperformed the nation.

Compared to much of the U.S. economy, there is much higher homogeneity of local business indicators within the Puget Sound. Examples of these in the business index are the nearly 70% of CFOs in the 200 member panel who reported higher wage and salary growth in their local region. Similarly, over 60% of respondents reported that the Northwest has lower inflation than the national average. The exceptions were in housing and apartment rent, which are not driven by the increased employment demand and higher housing costs due to over-regulation and the restriction on the housing supply side.

From the discriminant analysis, which measures the power of the relationship of variables, the impact of regulation on industries had the most impact on overall confidence in the economy. Those who rated the impact of increased regulation on their industry as high were more likely to rate their overall confidence as lower than those who did not consider increased regulation as having a strong impact on their business. HR2 tested differences between impacts of regulation and industry and showed that companies experiencing greater impact from regulation were also less likely to grow as much over the next year.

A final finding was that there was a statistical relationship between employee satisfaction and employee growth. Business leaders continue to report and practice that their employees are their greatest company asset. This is being accomplished in many successful ways. An example includes the ProClub, which has implemented healthcare and special programs focused on preventative health, nutrition and exercise, as well as the use of the behavioral sciences, all in an effort to enhance the quality of life of its employees.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Senior Research Director, Jim, for further insights at 425-301-7447 or To learn more about HR2 Research/Analytics, please visit our website at
HR Squared Research and Analytics
Haley Brown