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Business Owners Stay Optimistic

Costa Rican business owners are overwhelmingly positive about the economy, according to the latest quarterly survey released by the Union of Private-Sector Chambers and Associations (UCCAEP).

The survey, which asked the opinions of more than 400 business owners, found 94% predicting the economy will either continue its strong growth or grow even faster in the coming quarter.

UCCAEP conducted the survey in the first weeks of January, before the Central Bank released a pessimistic assessment of  the Costa Rican economy that predicted growth would slow in 2008 to 4.8% from last year’s 6.8%.

Still, the indices released by UCCAEP – the business owner perception index and the business owner confidence index – reflect the highest opinion of the country’s economy since the Union began conducting the survey a decade ago.

The survey found perception of the last quarter averaging 7.18 on a scale of one to 10 (where 10 was best), a number that represents an 11% jump over the previous quarter.

Likewise, the perception of the future of the economy was at 7.8, also a record.

Notably, however, the tourism and export sectors of the economy, while feeling positive, are less so than other sectors. In addition, UCCAEP Vice President Jaime Molina said an acute labor shortage continues to dog the country’s economy.

He called for both better government training and education programs and immigration reform that would allow Costa Rican employers easier access to foreign work forces.

“The thing with labor is that it runs out,” he said, pointing to the country’s historically low 4.6% unemployment rate.



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