After holding a zoom learning series with the Fairfield Area chamber of Commerce last week, the Iowa Business Council has released its first-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 that means sentiment is positive. The first-quarter survey’s overall economic outlook index is 60.42. This marks the third positive quarter in a row, projecting continued confidence as the state emerges from the pandemic. The latest survey reports that 65 percent of members expect sales will be higher in the next six months.
Additionally, 55 percent of members anticipate their company’s hiring levels will be higher in the same time period. While capital spending projections remain positive, the index fell to 56.25, with the majority of respondents expecting no change in the category. This implies a pragmatic, wait-and-see approach as Iowa’s business community surpasses the one-year anniversary of the pandemic. The survey also indicates that IBC members remain concerned about attracting and developing a talented and diverse workforce. 80 percent of respondents cited the issue as one of their top three primary business challenges. The survey results also reflected the importance of the Iowa Business Council’s top legislative priorities such as affordable childcare, workforce housing and high-speed internet access.