40% of MN Employers Expect More Revenue this Quarter

Twin Cities Business' Quarterly Economic Indicator survey found that the state's employers remain optimistic, despite growing pessimism over the national economy and government.

Business leaders from across Minnesota are staying the course with their plans and expectations this quarter, despite worsening economic and financial market conditions in recent months.

Of 505 executives responding to a survey conducted by Twin Cities Business in late September, 40 percent said they expect their companies' revenues will increase during the fourth quarter ending December 31. Only 15 percent anticipate revenue declines.

Half of all survey respondents anticipate increased employee productivity in the months ahead, versus 2 percent who see productivity slipping. And more businesses plan to hire additional employees (29 percent) than to decrease headcount (8 percent).

This sentiment is nearly identical to what leaders had forecast three months earlier in late June, when Twin Cities Business conducted the same survey to compile its third-quarter economic indicators. One difference is that only 8 percent of employers now plan to cut headcount in the next three months; 11 percent planned to do so during the summer.

The Twin Cities Business Quarterly Economic Indicator survey also asked what leaders' biggest challenges are this quarter. The greatest percentage of common-theme answers (18 percent) related to finding new ways to grow revenues. Second highest was difficulty in finding qualified employees (13 percent). The next three most commonly referred-to concerns revolved around maintaining revenues and profit margins (10 percent); government's negative impact on business (8 percent); and overall economic uncertainty (5 percent).

Hiring this quarter is expected to be most active in health care delivery and services (55 percent of survey respondents from this industry are looking to hire); transportation (42 percent); wholesale trade (41 percent); biotech, med-tech, and pharmaceuticals (40 percent); and IT services, software, and telecom (39 percent).

In terms of capital outlays and infrastructure improvements, IT services/software tops the list, with 52 percent of survey respondents from this industry saying they'll increase such spending this quarter. Next highest are transportation (42 percent) and manufacturing (41 percent).

Twin Cities Business conducted the survey to provide a glimpse at overall business planning and sentiment among leaders across all areas and industries in Minnesota. An e-mail with a link to an online survey was sent to 14,473 representatives of Minnesota businesses in late September. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce provided some of the e-mail addresses used in this outreach. Of the 505 leaders who responded by October 4, 90.6 percent represented privately held businesses.