Nebraska businesses continue to be optimistic about their prospects for hiring more people during the next six months, according to the latest survey by the Bureau of Business Research at UNL.
However, responding businesses were less certain about their expectations for sales growth.
UNL economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research in the College of Business Administration, described businesses as “solidly optimistic” about employment, with 21 percent expecting to add jobs and only 6 percent expecting to decrease them. Most said they expected their employment numbers to hold steady.
The outlook for sales growth was modestly optimistic. While 27 percent of businesses responding statewide expected sales to grow during the next six months, 24 percent predicted 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.”
Though 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,” Thompson said. “It 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 analyze economic trends by region.
He found business expectations strongest in the Omaha and Lincoln areas and in western Nebraska. Central and northeast Nebraska, with their strong focus on crop production and agriculture-related business, had a neutral outlook.
For more information, the full survey report is available on the Bureau of Business Research website, http://www.bbr.unl.edu.