Charlotte Chamber Economic Outlook Conference - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte Chamber Economic Outlook Conference

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The stock market is up, home prices are soaring,  but local business leaders are showing caution when it comes to hiring more workers.

Executives and Government leaders got together Monday to look into our economic future at one of the most important annual conferences we have in Charlotte because it gives us a glimpse into the minds of the leaders of our big local businesses - will they be hiring or firing in 2014? Growing or contracting?

Top executives from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Belk, Duke Energy and Premiere were upbeat on a few fronts.

They all seemed satisfied with improvements in the area's housing industry, and they said local companies are enjoying some of their best balance sheets in decades. Businesses are making money again.

But that good news is not doing enough to really lift the mood of either business leaders or consumers.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said the bank's customers have not been spending as much on their debit and credit cards - the execs said they've been tracking a persistent cautiousness in household spending after the traumatic economic events of the past few years.

And while there has been an improvement in unemployment, wages are still lower than they have been in years, which means consumers are losing purchasing power.

Today's panel said the problem still causing business leaders to postpone their expansion plans is new government regulations and red tape.

Executives still don't know how much the Affordable Care Act will cost companies, and they said they don't expect the economy to significantly improve until state and federal governments put an end to all the uncertainty out there.

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