Business expectations improved in Nebraska during March while consumer confidence held steady, according to the latest surveys conducted by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
During March, Nebraska businesses grew much more optimistic about the outlook for sales at their businesses, according to the Survey of Nebraska Business. Forty-five percent of businesses expect sales to grow over the next 6 months versus just 12 percent who think sales will decline. Businesses also remain optimistic about job growth.
Nebraska’s Consumer Confidence Index, by contrast, was little changed in March, with a value of 91.0. This value, while steady, is well below the neutral baseline value of 100. The Consumer Confidence Index – Nebraska is estimated based on responses to the Survey of Nebraska Households.
Eric Thompson, a UNL economist who is director of the bureau, said a strong economy is key to improving consumer confidence.
“A significant share of respondents to the Survey of Nebraska Households report concerns about the cost of living and their level of wages and income,” Thompson said. “Sustained growth in employment and wages will be required to improve consumer confidence.”
The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses and households. In March, 120 businesses responded to the Survey of Nebraska Business, for a response rate of 24 percent. There were 105 respondents to the Survey of Nebraska Households, for a response rate of 21 percent.