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Iowa executives more optimistic about economy despite workforce concerns

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(The Center Square) – Iowa big business leaders largely believe that the state’s economy will improve in the next six months, according to a survey Iowa Business Council released Wednesday.

Each quarter, the council surveys business leaders on their expectations for business success factors in the upcoming six months. An index score above 50 means sentiment is positive.

This quarter’s economic outlook survey found an increase of 4.45 points from the previous quarter’s report, Iowa Business Council said. The new score is 64.17 points.

The council said expectations rose across each of the three categories: sales, capital spending and employment. Sales expectations rose 3.47, to 68.75, while capital spending increased 4.31, to 61.25. Employment expectations rose 5.56 to 62.50.

Workforce attraction and retention remains the top concern, the survey found. Nine of 10 executives surveyed said it’s a primary challenge for their business. Eighty percent of executives, down from 94% in the first quarter, said it’s “somewhat” to “very difficult” to hire employees. Fifty-five percent of survey respondents said they anticipate employment will be between 1% and 7% higher over the upcoming six months compared with the prior six months, while 40% said they don’t expect a change.

Fifty-five percent of executives said an unfavorable business climate tied specifically to supply chain challenges was a primary concern. The cost of products and services was the third leading business challenge, as 50% of council members said it’s a core concern. Seventy percent said they expect sales in the next six months will rise between 1% and 7% compared with the past six months. Twenty percent said they don’t anticipate a change. Ninety-five percent said they anticipate capital spending will either rise between 1% and 7% or stay the same in the next two quarters compared with the prior two quarters.

“These results show a continued resiliency among IBC companies and the state of Iowa as a whole,” Iowa Business Council President Joe Murphy said. “Iowa business leaders remain agile and skilled in their ability to plan for potential future disruptions while continuing to put forward pro-growth strategies throughout our state.”

The council has distributed the survey quarterly since 2004. It has 21 members, who are chief decision makers at major Iowa employers. Iowa Business Council member companies, which together employ more than 150,000 Iowans, have a presence in each Iowa county.

To see more survey results, click here.

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