The latest quarterly survey by the Iowa Business Council shows optimism among the leaders of its 20 businesses members. I.B.C. executive director, Elliott Smith, says the indicators in the survey either held steady or moved ahead. Smith says the numbers ease some fears after the last survey.

“We were a little concerned at the results from last quarter, the third quarter, when a couple of our indicators trended downward,” Elliott explains,”the concern at the time was, is the recovery pausing before it goes up again, or are we preparing for another downturn.”

The survey indicated that sales expectations were the same as last quarter, while capital spending was up eight points and employment projections were up two points. Smith says there aren’t big changes, but the indicators did not drop. He says the fact that the indicators all maintained or went up this quarter gives them a little more optimism there is not going to be a second downturn in the economy and the recovery is truly here.

Smith says business activity for the first half of next year looks “good and promising.” Smith says we haven’t returned yet to the historical high levels in the survey at the end of 2007 and the start of 2008. Smith says they are still a few steps below the highs, but “are certainly off our lows which we saw at the beginning of 2009, really throughout that year.”

Smith says if things continue moving forward then businesses will look to start hiring people again. “Our optimism is moving away from being cautious and being pure, you know we’re seeing sustained levels of business activity…and that will eventually drive employment hopefully,” Smith says.

The survey found 91% of the business leaders expected steady or increased sales. Eighty-six-percent of the businesses expect capital spending to increase, and 81% expect hiring levels to remain steady or grow.

You can see the entire survey here: 2010 Q4 Economic Outlook Survey