Nebraska businesses grew less optimistic about the outlook for sales, according to the latest monthly survey conducted by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The September survey showed that 24 percent of respondents expect sales to decline over the next six months, an increase of six percentage points compared to the August survey.
“If this trend continues in subsequent months, it would indicate growing concerns about the strength of the state economy,” said UNL economist Eric Thompson, the bureau’s director.
However, the September results still show modest optimism: 27 percent of respondents predicted increased sales over the next six months, slightly outweighing those who predicted a decline. In addition, 12 percent of respondents said they expected to increase employment over the next six months, compared to 5 percent who said they planned to reduce employment.
Customer demand was the most common business concern, cited by 30 percent of respondents. The quality and availability of labor was cited second most often, chosen by 19 percent of respondents. Fifteen percent of respondents chose government regulation as their top business concern. The responses show little change from recent months.
The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses. In September, 114 businesses responded, for a response rate of 23 percent. Thompson combined August and September 2015 responses to analyze economic trends by region.
“Northeast Nebraska was the region with the most positive outlook for sales and employment, followed by the Omaha region,” Thompson said. The outlook was slightly positive in Southeast Nebraska and West Nebraska. The outlook was neutral in Central Nebraska, with a negative sales outlook and a positive employment outlook.
For more information, the full survey report is available on the Bureau of Business Research website, http://www.bbr.unl.edu.