Continuing a trend that began in January, Nebraska businesses are more optimistic about employment during the next six months than they are about sales.
Most respondents to the February Survey of Nebraska Business, conducted by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, predicted that jobs will hold steady or grow during the next six months. Only seven percent predicted a decline in employment.
A larger share of respondents expressed doubts about sales. Although 28 percent predicted sales growth during the next six months, 23 percent predicted declining sales.
It’s a trend that should be monitored in coming months, said Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research.
“This can be maintained for several months, but in the long run, a strong employment outlook requires a strong sales outlook,” he said.
Customer demand was the most common business concern, cited by 30 percent of respondents. Quality and availability of labor was cited second most often, chosen by 17 percent of respondents. It was the sixth consecutive month that labor supply concerns ranked ahead of issues such as health care costs, regulation and taxes.
The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses. In February, 136 businesses responded, for a response rate of 27 percent. Thompson combined January and February 2015 responses to analyze economic trends by region.
Business expectations exhibited an urban and rural divide during the first two months of 2015, with the weakest expectations in the crop-producing regions of northeast and central Nebraska, Thompson said. Expectations for both sales and employment were very strong in the Omaha metropolitan area and modestly optimistic in southeast Nebraska, which includes Lincoln. West Nebraska had a positive outlook for employment but a neutral outlook for sales.
The full survey report is available on the Bureau of Business Research website at http://www.bbr.unl.edu.