Business-councilMost of the CEOs of Iowa’s largest companies are expecting improved sales and steady or slightly higher employment levels over the next six months. The Iowa Business Council (IBC) has released its first quarter Economic Outlook Survey and executive director Elliott Smith says it’s not much different than the surveys conducted in 2014.

“That’s a good thing. Our numbers have been fairly steady now for the last two, three, almost four quarters…not moving significantly up or down and we’re in solid, positive sentiment territory,” Smith says. The IBC’s first quarter Overall Economic Outlook Survey Index was 65 – the same as last quarter and three points ahead of this time last year.

The index uses a 100 point scale, with a score over 50 considered “positive sentiment.” Around 80-percent of the CEOs surveyed expect higher sales over the next six months. They’re also optimistic about adding workers. “From our responses this quarter, we had 95-percent of our employers either indicating they’re going to maintain existing employment levels or add to (their workforces) with new hires. Only five-percent (expect) lower employment activity,” Smith says. Specifically, 55-percent of the CEOs anticipate hiring more employees over the next six months, while 40-percent expect “no change” in employment levels.