Leaders Express Confidence In Their Businesses, But Pessimism About The Economy

Business leaders from across Minnesota are showing signs of confidence in their own operations, despite their pessimism about economic conditions.

Nearly 43 percent of 625 executives responding to a survey conducted by Twin Cities Business in late June said they expect their companies’ revenues to increase during the third quarter. Only 17 percent anticipate declines.

Also on the bright side, half of all respondents said they anticipate increased employee productivity in the months ahead, versus 2 percent who see productivity slipping. And more businesses plan to hire additional employees (33 percent) than to decrease headcount (11 percent). Industry categories most interested in hiring during the next three months are, from most hungry: insurance, institutions and services (including accounting, legal, IT), retail, manufacturing and communications. The industry sectors least likely to be hiring are government, utilities, and agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.

Meanwhile, roughly one-third of all respondents said they believe that business conditions in Minnesota, as well as nationally and internationally, will worsen during the third quarter; about 40 percent believe conditions will stay unchanged. And finding qualified talent and financing for one’s business is expected to get harder, not easier, in the months ahead.

“The results are similar to what we found when we did a survey of businesses across the Ninth District in late May. Overall, it looks like businesses are anticipating an uptick in activity with an increase in sales and productivity,” says Toby Madden, regional economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. His inaugural midyear survey in late May received 151 responses. Nearly two-thirds said they expect revenues to increase during the next 12 months.  

“The surprising thing is that when we asked people about the overall economy, their answers were more optimistic than what your survey found a month later,” he says. “The state government shutdown could be one reason for that.”

Twin Cities Business conducted its survey in late June to provide a glimpse at overall business planning and sentiment among leaders across all areas and industries in Minnesota. Tables on the next two pages provide more information on survey findings.

Methodology

An e-mail with a link to an online survey was sent to 14,482 Minnesota business leaders June 22. A reminder e-mail was sent June 29 to those who had not yet completed the survey. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce provided some of the addresses used in this outreach. As of July 1, 625 leaders responded, resulting in a 4.3 percent response rate.

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