The executive director of the Iowa Business Council says their third-quarter survey shows weaker confidence among members.
Georgia Van Gundy says the survey found sales expectations for the next year were down 24 percent compared to survey results from one year ago. “Due primarily to the political and global market uncertainty and the disruptive regulatory climate is what they cite,” Van Gundy says. “In past quarters they have been pretty positive , but this time they aren’t as optimistic as they have been.”
The survey also questions members on expected capital spending and workforce to get an overall index. Van Gundy says the survey’s overall index number is down from last quarter. She says they have been putting out the survey since 2004 and this quarter it is at the lowest point that it has been since Q-4 of 2016,” Van Gundy says.
The index dropped from 63.75 to 62.5. The organization includes the chief executives of the 23 biggest companies in the state. Van Gundy says the uncertainty of when trade deals are going to get completed is a big issue.
“That’s why our members have been speaking with the Iowa delegation as far as passage of U.S. MCA and some other issues that they see from a trade perspective,” she says. “We met with them during our third-quarter meeting and we have also been sending letters and other communications from around the state in terms of getting some certainty and passing U.S. MCA.”
Thirty-three-percent of those in the survey expect the number of employees in their business to grow over the fourth quarter — and 53% expect the number to stay the same. Van Gundy says finding employees to do that remains a challenge.
“Workforce is always an issue with employers — any size employer in our state — and honestly it’s in other states as well. But for our members, 83% cite attracting, developing and retaining a quality workforce as restraining for growth,” according to Van Gundy.
Van Gundy says they continue trying to address the worker shortage with programs that help train workers, and build the workforce. “Some of them are short term issues that we are working on — but some of them are hopefully long-term that will help us hopefully stabilize the workforce,” Van Gundy explains. “In addition to that — one of our high-level initiatives that our members have is looking at increasing our populations.”
You can see the full survey by going to the Iowa Business Council’s website.