Results of a survey released today show the C.E.O.’s of some of Iowa’s largest businesses are anticipating increased sales, capital spending and employment over the next six months. Elliott Smith is executive director of the Iowa Business Council (IBC).
“I think the underlying sense is the first half of 2012 has some promise to it,” Smith said. “Certainly sales and capital spending both show solid improvement into positive sentiment territory. So, all in all, we’re optimistic about the coming year.”
The IBC fourth-quarter economic survey index, which is based on a point system, topped the third quarter across the board. But, the latest survey is lower than a year ago. Many of the C.E.O’s, 42%, expect hiring levels to remain stagnant over the next six months.
Smith says employment is a “lagging indicator,” so it’s always the last category to improve. “It seems to move after there’s been longterm improvement in sales and capital spending,” Smith said. “You want revenue coming in the door and the proper buildings and things in place before bringing back existing employees or hiring new.”
Ninety-percent of the business leaders surveyed expect steady or increased sales during the first half of 2012. Smith says that bodes well for Iowa’s overall economy and employment picture. Iowa Business Council chairman Tom Aller, who is president of Interstate Power and Light, said it’s premature to suggest that a sustained economic recovery is occurring – but (the survey) does show Iowa’s business leaders have “regained a cautious optimism for economic growth during the first half of the coming year.”