A new survey of the CEOs of 25 of Iowa’s largest businesses shows most are predicting an increase in sales over the first half of 2015. Elliott Smith, executive director of the Iowa Business Council (IBC), says the survey also shows little movement in terms of capital spending and employment. “That’s been the story for most of this year — just good, solid, positive performance,” Smith said. “We’re hoping that’s what the first five or six months of 2015 have in store.”
The IBC survey finds 35-percent of the state’s largest business leaders expect “no change” in employment levels between January and June, while 15-percent forecast cuts to their workforce. “Maybe that’s a little indicative of some of the uncertainties we’re seeing in the agriculture sector right now, with the impact of commodity prices on farms and how that might be rippling into the non-farm segment of the state’s economy,” Smith said.
Only five-percent of the CEOs surveyed anticipate a decline in sales over the coming six months, while 75-percent predict an increase in sales. “When sales either maintain or move up, as it did this particular quarter, that is promising,” Smith said. “When sales are good and steady for a number of quarters, that gives businesses the confidence to invest in more machinery, build more buildings, expand, and hire more people, hopefully.”
The IBC’s overall economic outlook survey index for the fourth quarter of 2014 is 65 — which is the same as the third quarter and up three points (62) from one year ago.