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January Survey: Nebraska Business Maintain Optimism for Employment Growth

Nebraska business’s maintained their optimistic outlook in for employment in January, according to the latest survey by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Respondents to the January Survey of Nebraska Business were solidly optimistic in their expectations for employment growth, said UNL economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research.

The outlook for sales growth, however, was only modestly optimistic.  In January, 27 percent of businesses responding statewide said they expect sales to grow during the next six months, but 24 percent predict declining sales.
“The share of businesses with a negative sales outlook rose in January,” Thompson said. “The increase in concern about sales likely reflects challenges in the agriculture sector.”

Most Important Issue Facing Business
Most businesses predicted employment will remain steady, though 21 percent anticipate adding jobs and just 6 percent expect to reduce employment.

Customer demand was the most common business concern, cited by 29 percent of respondents.  The quality and availability of labor was the second most cited concern, chosen by 21 percent of respondents. This is the highest share recorded for labor quality and availability in any survey month and reflects a growing concern about labor supply in the state.

The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses. In January, 147 businesses responded, for a response rate of 29 percent. Thompson combined December 2014 and January 2015 responses to create a sample size large enough to analyze economic trends by region. 

Within the state, business expectations were very strong in the Omaha metropolitan area. Expectations in southeast Nebraska, which includes Lincoln, and in west Nebraska were at state averages. Business expectations were well below state averages in central Nebraska and northeast Nebraska, two regions heavily invested in crop production and agricultural-related businesses. Expectations were neutral rather than optimistic in these regions.

“Business expectations are strong in west Nebraska and the Lincoln area and especially strong in the Omaha area,” Thompson said. “Business expectations are neutral in regions of the states with a focus on crop production and agricultural-related businesses.”

Nebraska Business Survey - January 2015
Published: February 6, 2015