ALBANY, N.Y. -- The economy in New York state has improved over the past six months but is still severely strained, according to a poll of business owners in the state.

The poll, commissioned by Fleet Financial Group Inc., found that 94% of executives surveyed think that New York is in a recession. In December, 98% made that characterization. Just over half, or 53%, said they expect the recession to continue for at least another year.

Of the 412 executives who responded to the poll, 26% said they planned to hire more people before yearend.

Asked which presidential candidate would be best for the economy, 36% named Ross Perot, 22% George Bush, and 7% Bill Clinton.

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