Iowa businesses express optimism for next six months

More than half expect sales to increase

Virginia Miller of University Heights picks up an order from Veronica Tessler, business owner, at Yotopia in Iowa City i
Virginia Miller of University Heights picks up an order from Veronica Tessler, business owner, at Yotopia in Iowa City in April. The local frozen yogurt shop was one of several restaurants in the area to receive an Iowa Small Business Relief Grant to help sustain it through the coronavirus shutdown. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Leaders at 22 of Iowa’s largest employers are increasingly optimistic about the state’s economic outlook, according to a new survey from the Iowa Business Council.

IBC’s quarterly economic outlook index reached 62.5, the highest mark since the third quarter of 2019. An index above 50 indicates “positive economic sentiment” among its members.

“We’re feeling very good about where Iowa’s economy is trending,” IBC executive director Joe Murphy told The Gazette.

“We’re still not out of the woods with respect to the pandemic. We know that there’s a long way to go.”

It’s up from 58.7 in October. Murphy attributed much of the optimism to companies “adapting to the new business reality” and the start of vaccine distribution.

“The fact that vaccines are being pumped into the arms of Iowans, we feel like that’s a very good sign,” Murphy said.

“As that continues to get distributed to Iowans, that will continue to breed confidence among our largest businesses in the state.”


The survey asks IBC members, including executives at Collins Aerospace, Hy-Vee and Alliant Energy, what they expect to see in the next six months compared to the previous six months.

More than half of businesses expected sales to be higher or significantly higher.

Half of companies also expected employment to increase in the next six months, while less than 20 percent anticipated it to decrease.

Almost half of recipients expected a rise in capital spending — more than 20 percent believed it will be substantially higher — while about 45 percent expected no change and 5 percent expected a decrease.

“As companies continue to invest in their own companies, that means they’re investing in infrastructure, they’re investing in jobs and they’re investing in technology,” Murphy said.

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