Confidence surveys, with information generally released ahead of official statistical data, can indicate changes to the economic outlook as well as turning points in the economic cycle. Confidence among consumers and businesses is yet another driver of growth – and for 2018, experts say,the future is bright.
Consumer confidence, which jumped following the presidential election, has remained high. Business people, for their part, seem confident as well, and seem willing to invest. Moody’s, for one, expects business investment to increase by 4.5 percent in 2018, up from an anticipated 4.07 percent figure for 2017.
Optimism about the U.S. economy among business owners and leaders also remains high, according to the PNC Economic Outlook, a biannual telephone survey of small and medium-sized business owners, which began in 2003.
Respondents who described their outlook for the U.S. economy as strongly optimistic was reported at 29 percent (down from 40 percent the previous year), balanced by those with a moderately optimistic outlook rising from 48 percent to 58 percent. Just 12 percent of business owners and leaders expressed pessimism, up slightly from an all-time low of 9 percent in the spring.
“Small businesses are a key source of economic activity and employment, and owners’ perceptions can be good indicators of what’s to come,” stated Gus Faucher, chief economist of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., in a prepared statement. “The overall findings from our survey confirm that the U.S. economic expansion, now more than eight years old and the third-longest in U.S. history, will continue into 2018.”
Further solidifying the anticipation of continued growth, more than half of business owners and leaders anticipate increases in sales (54 percent) and profits (51 percent) during the next six months, an increase over fall 2016, but a slight drop from post-election highs reported in spring 2017.
In this edition of the Business Magazine, we’ll talk with local economist Ken Louie, Ph.D., director of the Economic Research Institute of Erie, about why the national economy will provide superhero strength for hoisting up the local and regional economy in 2018. We’ll also hear from Manufacturer & Business Association (MBA) Board of Governors Chairman Harry Eighmy on his thoughts about the outlook on manufacturing and the Association in the year ahead.
December is always a good time to examine your organization’s needs and resources. Take a look at the Association’s new training catalog or visit www.mbausa.org to see how the MBA can help better prepare you and your employees for success in 2018!