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BBR Business Survey Shows Positive Outlook

Nebraska businesses reported a positive outlook for sales and employment for the next six months, according to a June survey conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Bureau of Business Research.

It is the fifth consecutive month that businesses reported a positive outlook, said Eric Thompson, a UNL economist and director of the bureau.

"Such consistent optimism on the part of Nebraska businesses is a reliable signal of sustainable growth," he said.

Businesses in the Omaha metropolitan area seem particularly optimistic about future sales growth, Thompson added.

Statewide, a third of responding businesses said they expected their sales to increase during the next six months. Another 48 percent predicted their sales would hold steady.

Most expect to keep the same number of employees or grow. Only 3 percent said they expect to reduce employment during the remainder of 2014.

Customer demand was the most frequently cited concern, with 44 percent of businesses listing it as the most important issue they face. Another 15 percent said they were most concerned about the availability and quality of labor -- the highest percentage of concern about labor reported in recent months.

Nearly eight out of 10 respondents included business operations concerns, such as customer demand, labor and supply costs, as their greatest concerns. Only two in 10 pointed to public policy concerns such as health care costs, the Affordable Care Act, taxes and regulations.

The Survey of Nebraska Business is sent to 500 randomly selected businesses of all sizes each month. For June's survey, 127 responded for a 25 percent response rate. To analyze the Omaha-area businesses, May and June responses were combined to create a sufficient sample size and compared to May and June responses from businesses elsewhere in the state.

Published: July 3, 2014