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Nebraska Businesses Turn Optimistic Again

Nebraska business’s regained their optimistic outlook in October, according to the latest survey by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Respondents to the October Survey of Nebraska Business were optimistic in their expectations for both sales and employment growth, said UNL economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research.

Thompson said the results are a positive signal for growth in the Nebraska economy next year. 

“After a mixed outlook in September, Nebraska businesses were more optimistic in October,” he said. “The result confirms that the Nebraska economy should grow in 2015 but the pace of growth remains in question. We will need to see if future monthly surveys yield mixed results, as in September, or strong results, as in October.”

Most Important Issue Facing Business
In October, 30 percent of businesses responding statewide said they expect sales to grow during the next six months, outweighing the 18 percent who predict declining sales.  Most predicted employment will remain steady, though 11 percent anticipate adding jobs and 7 percent expect to reduce employment.

Customer demand was the most common business concern, cited by 31 percent of respondents. Nearly 1 in 6 responding businesses indicated availability and quality of labor was their top concern, an issue that has grown throughout the year as the labor market continued to strengthen. Relatively few businesses listed the cost of goods and services as their top concern, a result which is consistent with mild inflation and falling fuel prices.

The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses. In October, 152 businesses responded, for a response rate of 30 percent. Thompson combined August and September responses to create a sample size large enough to analyze economic trends by region. 

Within the state, business expectations were most positive in Omaha and somewhat positive in both southeast Nebraska and central Nebraska. Expectations were mixed in northeast Nebraska and west Nebraska.  

Businesses in southeast Nebraska and central Nebraska were more likely to list the quality and availability of labor as their top concern. “Results suggest that labor supply issues are a growing concern in Lincoln and other parts of southeast Nebraska as well as in central Nebraska,” Thompson said. West Nebraska businesses were more likely to list taxes as their top concern.

Nebraska Business Survey - November 2014
Published: November 7, 2014