Nebraska businesses have turned optimistic about the outlook for sales and employment, according to the latest monthly survey conducted by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The November survey showed 31 percent of responding businesses expect sales will increase during the next six months, compared to 20 percent who expect sales to decline.
The outlook for employment is even more optimistic, as 20 percent of businesses expect to increase employment and just 4 percent expect to reduce it.
“This positive outlook in November represents a recovery from the relatively weak outlook observed in the September and October surveys, and confirms that the Nebraska economy will continue to grow during the first half of 2016,” said UNL economist Eric Thompson, the Bureau’s director.
Customer demand is the most common business concern, cited by 30 percent of respondents. Nearly as many respondents, 27 percent, choose the quality and availability of labor. “The elevated interest in the quality and availability of labor reflects Nebraska’s tight labor market,” said Thompson
The surveys are sent each month to 500 randomly selected Nebraska businesses. In November, 159 businesses responded, for a response rate of 32 percent. Thompson combined October and November 2015 responses to analyze economic trends by region.
“A rural-urban divide is evident in survey responses,” according to Thompson. Southeast Nebraska, including Lincoln, is the most optimistic region, followed by the Omaha region and the Central Nebraska. The outlook is only slightly optimistic in Northeast Nebraska and mixed in west Nebraska.