December business survey shows mixed outlook

December business survey shows mixed outlook

Eric Thompson (second from right), associate professor of economics, works with student research assistants in the College of Business Administration’s Bureau of Business Research. The bureau is designed to assist with Nebraska’s economic development efforts.
Craig Chandler | University Communication
Eric Thompson (second from right), associate professor of economics, works with student research assistants in the College of Business Administration’s Bureau of Business Research. The bureau is designed to assist with Nebraska’s economic development efforts.

Nebraska businesses remain optimistic about employment over the next six months, but they have mixed expectations for sales, according to the latest monthly survey conducted by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"The outlook in December, while weaker than in November, continues to suggest that the Nebraska economy will grow at a solid pace during the second quarter of 2016," said UNL economist Eric Thompson, the bureau's director.

The December survey showed 13 percent of responding businesses expect to increase employment over the next six months, while just 2 percent expect to reduce it.

The outlook for sales was split, with 26 percent of responding businesses predicting sales increases and 26 percent predicting sales decreases. The remainder expected no change in sales.

Customer demand was the most common business concern, cited by 39 percent of respondents. State and federal regulation was the top concern of 13 percent, while the availability and quality of labor was chosen by 11 percent.

The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses. In December, 128 businesses responded, for a response rate of 26 percent. Thompson combined November and December 2015 responses to analyze economic trends by region.

Urban Nebraska showed greater optimism than other regions, Thompson said.

"Omaha is the most optimistic region," he said, "closely followed by the southeast and central Nebraska regions. The outlook is modestly positive in northeast Nebraska and mixed in west Nebraska."

The full survey report is available on the Bureau of Business Research website, http://www.bbr.unl.edu.