State’s largest businesses have positive outlook on 2014

(Radio Iowa) – The CEOs of Iowa’s largest businesses are feeling positive about business activity in the coming six months, according to a new report. The Iowa Business Council (IBC), which is comprised of the leaders of 21 of the state’s top employers, released the results of a quarterly survey of those executives on Monday.

Elliott Smith is the IBC’s executive director. “Things are boding pretty well for the start of 2014,” Smith says. The IBC’s Economic Outlook Survey uses an index with a 100-point scale. The overall index for the fourth quarter was 62, which is equal to the index recorded one year ago. The index factors in sales, capital spending, and employment.

Smith says the overall sales index was 63, five points below a year ago and four points below last quarter. “The sales number dropped slightly, but it’s still very solidly in positive sentiment territory, meaning employers still expect good activity on the sales front in the coming six months,” Smith says. Any index level higher than 50 indicates sentiment is positive.

The overall capital spending index was 61, down four points from the last survey. “But, again, still very solidly in the positive sentiment territory, so no real red flag there either,” Smith says. The overall outlook benefited mostly from the employment index, which was 61, up four points from a year ago. “So, that gives us a little hope that maybe employers are beginning to feel a little more confident in the economy,” Smith says. Eighty-five-percent of the survey respondents indicated they expect hiring levels to remain steady or grow during the next six months.