A tight labour market is continuing to weigh on the sentiment of businesses.
The Employers' and Manufacturers' Association survey shows a majority of employers are finding it difficult to get skilled staff, while many say there is - or will be - a skills shortage in their sector.
More employers are looking for overseas staff to plug the gaps.
Meanwhile, there has been a dampening in the outlook for business conditions.
The number of businesses expecting things to improve has fallen from 47 percent to 24 percent in the past year. Those expecting conditions to get worse went up from 4 percent to 28 percent.
In terms of their own businesses, just over half expect their companies to grow, compared with 68 percent last year.
The survey of more than 400 respondents was done from late October till the middle of last month.