Utah executives report cautious optimism about future economy

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The Salt Lake Chamber released the fourth-quarter results of the Salt Lake Chamber’s CEOutlook 2018-Q4 survey.

The Salt Lake Chamber’s CEOutlook is a statewide economic survey of Utah business executives. Modeled after other national business sentiment surveys, it provides a forward-looking view of the Utah economy. The results of the survey are intended to help business and community leaders make informed decisions about likely future economic conditions. The survey will continue to be evaluated through 2019 to assess its predictive value.

The fourth-quarter 2018 CEOutlook Confidence Index decreased from 60.9 in 2018-Q3 to 55.5 for 2018-Q4, as executives continue to report cautious optimism for the nation’s top-performing economy. The Salt Lake Chamber’s CEOutlook Confidence Index is based on responses to the four standard questions included in each quarter’s survey (Questions 1-4). The Index can range from 0 to 100. A score below 50 indicates executives believe the economy will worsen; a score above 50 indicates a belief among executives that the economy will improve.

“Last quarter, I mentioned the changing global economic indicators. While Utah is not immune from the broader economic trends, it appears this quarter that business leaders remain cautiously optimistic about Utah’s economic trajectory,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance. “There is no question that there is more uncertainty facing business, civic and elected leaders. That is why it is essential that we understand that, as business leaders, we can play an active role in defining our future.”

According to the fourth-quarter 2018 CEOutlook survey, 63% of executives report similar economic conditions for Utah’s economy as compared to the previous six months, and nearly one-third of executives note improvement, while trend points to moderating environment. The study also shows that a majority of executives, 67%, anticipate Utah’s strong economy will hold steady in months ahead. Factors that executives believe could have a negative impact on Utah’s economy include the tight labor market, rising housing prices and declining sentiment.

“A majority of executives, 61%, in the CEOutlook are still anticipating moderate or significant profit growth in the year ahead. I agree, but still urge caution. Rising labor, interest, housing, material, and transportation costs will ultimately mute growth,” said Natalie Gochnour, director of Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and chief economist at the Salt Lake Chamber. “Predicting a time of turndown—or even modest growth—is exactly why we collect this data. Utah needs a reliable leading indicator. After all, economists have predicted 11 of the past three recessions. The challenge will be to make decisions that extend this expansion even longer. If any state can do it, Utah can.”

To view the full Q4 report and to learn more about the CEOutlook, visit: http://slchamber.com/ceoutlook/