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Business Optimism Persists in Nebraska

Nebraska business’s maintained their optimistic outlook in November, according to the latest survey by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Respondents to the November Survey of Nebraska Business were solidly optimistic in their expectations for both sales and employment growth, said UNL economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research.
Most Important Issue Facing Business
Thompson said the results are a positive signal for growth in the Nebraska economy during the first half of next year. 
“Nebraska businesses remained optimistic in November,” he said. “In many cases, businesses expectations appeared to reflect the strengthening national economy rather than challenges in the agriculture sector.”
In November, 29 percent of businesses responding statewide said they expect sales to grow during the next six months, outweighing the 19 percent who predict declining sales.  These results were nearly identical to those from the October survey. Most businesses predicted employment will remain steady, though 14 percent anticipate adding jobs and 4 percent expect to reduce employment.
Customer demand was the most common business concern, cited by 33 percent of respondents.   One in six responding businesses indicated that the availability and quality of labor was their top concern, an issue that has grown throughout the year as the labor market continued to strengthen. These results are again very consistent with the October survey.
The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses. In October, 183 businesses responded, for a response rate of 37 percent. Thompson combined October and November responses to create a sample size large enough to analyze economic trends by region. 

Within the state, business expectations were strongest in metropolitan regions. Expectations were especially positive in southeast Nebraska, which includes Lincoln, and the Omaha area. Business expectations were near the state averages in central Nebraska and far below state averages in in northeast Nebraska and west Nebraska.  Expectations in the latter two regions are best described as neutral rather than optimistic.
“Metropolitan economies may benefit most from the improving national economy,” Thompson said. “Rural economies are more directly impacted by falling crop prices.”
Nebraska Business Survey - December 2014
Published: December 12, 2014