MMAC survey finds low expectations for Q2 activity

The MMAC’s latest business outlook survey found relatively low expectations for growth in the second quarter. 

Bret Mayborne, economic research director for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, notes respondents expressed concern about continuing economic growth in the coming months. 

“That concern was reflected with less than half of those surveyed seeing [second quarter] growth among the three major metrics – sales, profits and employment,” he said in a statement. 

MMAC found 44% of respondents expect to see year-over-year sales increases in the second quarter of this year, while 29% expect sales declines and 27% expect to see no change. Report authors note the percentage predicting second-quarter growth is below the 49% who predicted sales growth in the first quarter. 

It’s also the third quarter in a row where fewer than half of respondents were optimistic about sales in the coming months, the release shows. 

Still, manufacturing was a bright spot for the region as 57% of manufacturers expect second quarter sales growth compared to 38% for non-manufacturers. 

“On the positive side, manufacturers expressed a higher level of optimism on average, particularly on jobs, giving hope [that] manufacturing numbers may be turning the corner from weak first-quarter results,” Mayborne said. 

The percentage of manufacturers predicting job gains in the second quarter was 57%, compared to 42% for all other businesses. 

Across all industries, 48% expect job gains over the year, the survey found. That’s a sizable improvement from the first-quarter survey, when 35% of respondents expected to add jobs. 

In line with the trend for sales, 43% of respondents predict higher profits in the second quarter — down from the 52% who forecasted higher profits in the first quarter. And 30% don’t expect profits to change in the second quarter, while 27% expect profits to slide. 

Meanwhile, 46% of respondents predict real sales gains for 2024 overall, while 25% expect sales to fall and 29% predict no change. 

“Three months into the new year, the percentage predicting an annual sales increase marks a notable downgrade from first-quarter expectations when 61% of those surveyed predicted a 2024 sales gain,” report authors wrote. 

The online survey conducted by MMAC tapped 63 Milwaukee-area businesses that collectively employ more than 13,300 people. 

See the release.