The leaders of Iowa’s largest businesses are expressing some optimism about the state’s economy in the coming six months. Elliot Smith is executive director of the Iowa Business Council, which conducts a quarterly survey of its members. The survey for the first quarter of 2013 shows business CEOs expect slight increases in both sales and employment compared to survey conducted one year ago.
“Those are both good signs for the coming six months, particularly sales as that tends to be a leading economic indicator for business activity in the state,” Smith said. “When (sales) continues to trend up, which it has now for two quarters, that generally bodes well for both capital spending – which is investing in machinery, equipment and building – and employment.”
The IBC‘s Overall Economic Outlook Survey Index for the first quarter of 2013 rose to 64 — two points higher from three months ago (62) but more than two points lower at this time last year (66.3). Any score above 50 indicates “positive” business sentiment. Smith doesn’t expect much aggressiveness in terms of business activity until more is learned about the impact of the looming $85 billion in federal budget cuts.
“Until that is figured out, I think you’re going to see a little bit of cautious movement in longterm plans and strategies anyway,” Smith said. “But for the next six months, at least at the local level in Iowa, businesses are fairly confident that we’re going to see good, solid business activity.”
The Iowa Business Council is comprised of the top executives of 21 of the largest businesses in the state, the three Regent university presidents and the president and CEO of Iowa’s largest banking association.