Survey of Milwaukee businesses shows optimism for Q3

A recent business outlook survey from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce found most respondents expect their sales and jobs numbers to increase this year.

“Solid levels of optimism were expressed by area companies, both for the third-quarter and

for 2018 as a whole,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director.

He notes that in the first five months of 2018, the metro area’s overall job trend showed improvement, “particularly in manufacturing.”

“Survey results suggest that local businesses expect this trend to continue into the third quarter and beyond,” Mayborne said.

Seventy-four percent of surveyed businesses expect sales levels for the third quarter to be higher than the same period last year — up from 71 percent three months ago. Sixty-eight percent expect profits to rise, and over half are predicting gains in employment as well.

Just 6 percent expect third-quarter sales declines and 19 percent expect no change.

MMAC says the results of this survey suggest job gains for the area will continue in the third quarter of this year. Fifty-seven percent expect third-quarter job increases to top last year, and 41 percent see no job changes on the horizon.

When broken down by employer size and industry, both large employers and manufacturers had the highest levels of optimism for sales.

Eighty-five percent of manufacturers expect third-quarter sales to rise more than in Q3 last year, while 68 percent of non-manufacturers expect the same.

And 82 percent of businesses with 100 or more employees expect third-quarter sales gains, compared to 70 percent of smaller employers.

The percentage of businesses expecting profit increases in the third quarter — 68 percent — is slightly down from the beginning of the year, when it was 75 percent.

Fifty-eight percent of employers expect to spend more this year, slightly up from 53 percent at the start of 2018. Thirty percent predict no change, and 11 percent expect capital spending to decline.

The survey got responses from 98 Milwaukee businesses that collectively employ more than 35,900 people.

–By Alex Moe