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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The latest survey of business leaders by the Iowa Business Council shows “continued positive sentiment,” though IBC Executive Director Joe Murphy noted the results also reveal some signs of “trepidation.”
The third-quarter 2022 survey's six-month outlook came in at 58.75 — above the “positive” level of 50, but still down 5.13 index points from the second-quarter’s index.
Among the survey’s highlights:
- Sales expectations decreased 6.52 index points from the previous quarter’s level of 58.75. Some 60 percent believe their sales will be higher — by 1 percent to 7 percent — but almost 35 percent see no change or think sales will be lower.
- Capital spending expectations dropped by 10.41 points, to 56.25. Thirty-five percent anticipated their spending would increase 1 percent to 7 percent in the coming six months. But 55 percent planned no change or even lower capital spending.
- While the employment index climbed to 61.25, by 1.53 points, from the previous quarter, 95 percent of IBC members said “it is somewhat to very difficult to hire employees right now.”
- Sixty percent cited inflation as the “top concern” facing Iowa businesses.
Murphy noted to The Gazette that these numbers “speak to the economic odd times we’re in.” The nation as a whole has witnessed two successive quarters with drops in the gross domestic product — “the text book definition of a recession,” he said — but businesses still are hiring.
“There’s not just one thing,” he replied.
Iowa’s workforce, for example, is down 38,000 people since the start of the pandemic, in March 2020. That, he pointed out, is the equivalent size of Cedar Falls.
“More deliberate and strategic” efforts need to be made outside the state to recruit from colleges and universities, he said.
Murphy also urged passing what he termed comprehensive immigration legislation to encourage more people to move — and work — in Iowa.
The goal is “so people are doing more than living in our communities,” but working there, too.
He mentioned finding ways to include Afghan refugees who have been arriving in Iowa into the workforce. Agencies in the state said in May they’d resettled more than 900 Afghans.
He added that “it’s the right thing to do.”
Among the IBC’s 20 members who participated in the survey were Alliant Energy, Casey’s General Stores, Collins Aerospace, Deere and Co., Fareway, Hy-Vee, the Iowa Bankers Association, MidAmerican Energy, Pella Corp., UnityPoint Health, Vermeer Corp. and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa.
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