First Business Bank: Releases survey of northeast Wisconsin

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Executive Summary:

(APPLETON, WI) – December 6, 2013 – Key findings of the 2013 First Business Economic Survey of Northeast Wisconsin, which was conducted by the University of Wisconsin’s A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research in September and October of 2013, indicate businesses saw decreased profitability in 2012, however sales revenue remained steady.

Key Findings for 2013:

· The percentage of Northeast Wisconsin businesses reporting increased Profitability in 2013 was significantly down from 53.6% in 2012 to 39.1%.

o The proportion of firms reporting unchanged Profitability was significantly up from a mere 5.13% to 20.6%, showing less polarization in the change of Profitability.

o Businesses targeting the Wisconsin region also reported a significant increase in unchanged Profitability from 5.1% to 20.6%, suggesting less polarization in the results.

o Significantly higher than 14.3% in 2012, 38% of the businesses targeting the Midwest region reported decreased Profitability. A significantly lower proportion of businesses targeting the Midwest region reported increased Profitability at 38.1% vs. 71.8% in 2012.

· Only 19.9% of Northeast Wisconsin businesses reported exceeding Expected Performance, which was significantly lower than 27.5% last year.

o Consistent with last year, around 40% of Northeast Wisconsin businesses were able to meet their Expectations in 2013.

· The proportion of Northeast Wisconsin businesses reporting an increased Number of Employees was significantly down to 22.8% in 2013 from 35.9% in 2012. With over 60% reporting an unchanged Number of Employees vs. only 45.4% last year; employment remained fairly consistent in 2013.

o There was also a statistically significant increase from 38.5% in 2012 to 57.1%, in the proportion of businesses targeting the Wisconsin region and reporting the unchanged Number of Employees.

· For 2013, the proportion of businesses reporting unchanged Overall Wages was significantly higher at 37.3% compared to 27.8% last year. This signals that more businesses than earlier are experiencing similar wage changes.

o 62.3% of manufacturing businesses reported increased Wage in 2013, which is significantly lower than 79.4% in 2012.

o 50% in 2013 vs. 25.5% in 2012 of the Other Businesses category project Wages to remain unchanged in 2014, indicating less variable Wage changes experienced by businesses.

· The proportion of businesses reporting decreased Prices went significantly down from 11% in 2012 to 5.3% in 2013.

o 54.1% of businesses targeting the Midwest region reported unchanged Prices in 2013, which is significantly higher than 28.6% in 2012.

o Only 3.08% of both B2B and B2C businesses reported decreased Price in 2013, which is significantly lower than 9.7% in 2012.

· Significantly less than last year, only 38% project increased Capital Expenditure. Almost half the businesses forecast unchanged Capital Expenditure in 2014.

· 77% of the businesses project better performance in 2014, projecting overall a positive outlook for 2014. Although not statistically significant, this year slightly fewer businesses reported an increased Sales Revenue than those in 2012. At 40%, a higher proportion reported decreased Sales Revenue in 2013. This compares to 28% in 2012.

o Auguring well for their industry, significantly less retail businesses project decreased Revenue for the next year. (12% compared to 36% in 2012)

· Consistent with last year, almost 62% reported increased Operating Cost in 2013. Furthermore, 56% of businesses are projecting increased Operating Costs for 2014.

· In terms of Capacity Utilization, no significant change was reported in 2013 as compared to 2012. Around 15% of the businesses, a slightly higher proportion than in 2012, reported Over Utilization of Capacity.

This is the sixth year this study has been conducted. The 2013 First Business Economic Survey of Northeastern Wisconsin was sent to 7,120 local businesses. Of those, there were a total of 382 surveys received, which were adequately completed pertaining to the key economic indicators within the required time frame. This equates to a response rate of approximately 5.37% (see chart below for historical response rates). Of the 382 surveys, 170 were entered online and the remaining 212 were received via fax/mail. This survey sample size has an error range of 0.05 and is at the 95 % confidence level. For the purposes of this report, Northeast Wisconsin is the 18 county region of Northeast Wisconsin, commonly referred to as New North. The counties include Outagamie, Winnebago, Calumet, Waupaca, Brown, Shawano, Oconto, Marinette, Door, Kewaunee, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Marquette, Florence, Menominee, and Waushara.