The University of Baltimore’s Jacob France Institute in the Merrick School of Business is out with its fourth quarter survey of businesses, giving us some fresh but dour insights into the state of Maryland’s economy.

The report comes as legislators in Annapolis gather to debate/argue about new ways of generating jobs and revenue in an overall down economy. There is a good deal of pessimism about the path forward from business owners and increased skepticism that Maryland is actually a good place to do business.

Here are some of the survey’s results:

* The fourth quarter was not pretty: “Maryland firms reported steady decreases in both sales growth and employment growth when compared to the first three quarters of 2011.”

* The hopes for a strong 2012 are decidedly mixed: “A smaller percentage of firms are counting on 2012 to include a significant improvement in their performance and fewer firms expect the market for their products and services to expand in the coming year (47 percent) than what was expected in the third quarter 2011 (51 percent).”

* Business owners are struggling to find qualified workers: “In the fourth quarter of 2011, 40 percent of firms reported experiencing worker shortages,” the report said. Some “33 percent reported experiencing long-term worker shortages.” However, “37 percent of companies expect to increase their employment in the coming year.”

* Business owners are souring on Maryland as a place to do business: “22 percent of businesses rated Maryland as being either pro-business or business friendly. This is a substantial (17 percent) decrease from the first quarter of 2011. From the first quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2011, the percentage of firms rating the state as being either pro-business or business friendly decreased from 39 percent to 22 percent.”

Also: “A growing number of firms describe Maryland’s business climate as being either anti-business or business unfriendly in the fourth quarter (43 percent) when compared to the first quarter of 2011.

Are you a business owner? Do you agree with these survey results? Is Maryland a good place to do business? What would you tell Maryland legislators?