The Iowa Business Council (IBC) has released its third-quarter Economic Outlook Survey for 2021. The report measures member expectations for sales, capital spending and employment for the next six months. If the index measures above 50, sentiment is positive. The third-quarter survey’s overall economic outlook index is 65.41. This marks the fifth positive quarter in a row, projecting continued confidence in the state’s pandemic recovery efforts.
While outlooks remain strong for the next six months, expectations have leveled off slightly in most categories. Sales expectations fell 1.25 points to an index score of 70. The employment index fell 2.5 points to 66.25. While the majority of respondents (55%) expect their workforce to grow, 40% do not anticipate a change in employment. Capital spending decreased 1.25 points to an index score of 66.25.
Ongoing hiring concerns persist across the state. 100% of respondents reported that hiring is somewhat difficult to very difficult. Members reported more than 12,600 open positions across their companies. Additionally, 90% of respondents report their supply chain has been negatively impacted by the lingering effects of the pandemic.
“Attracting and retaining talent is the number one concern for employers across the state. While we are pleased to report a generally positive economic outlook for a fifth consecutive quarter, talent pipeline and supply chain issues stubbornly persist,” says Tim Yaggi, President & CEO of Pella Corporation and Chair of the Iowa Business Council.
“As company leaders look towards the next six months, 55% forecast their employment levels will be higher to substantially higher. In contrast, 40% anticipate no change. However, that does not mean these companies are happy with the status quo. Instead, they are coming to terms with the very real possibility that available jobs won’t get filled over the next six months,” explains Joe Murphy, executive director of the Iowa Business Council.
The Economic Outlook Survey has been completed by IBC members on a quarterly basis since 2004. The report provides insight regarding the projected trends for the state of Iowa, which can be used for business and economic planning. The reported trends have a state-wide impact, especially when considering that IBC companies have a presence in all 99 counties.