Utah executives report cautious optimism about future economy

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The Salt Lake Chamber released the first-quarter results of the Salt Lake Chamber’s CEOutlook 2019 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 first-quarter 2019 CEOutlook Confidence Index decreased from 55.5 in 2018-Q4 to 53.2 for 2019-Q1, as executives report a state of stasis for Utah’s 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.

“This quarter’s results demonstrate the cautious optimism Utah CEOs have for both the success of their industry and increased profits for their company over the next year. While optimism regarding their own business and industries is strong, overall uncertainty for the next six months seems to point to a slight lag in economic expansion,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance.

According to the first-quarter 2019 CEOutlook survey, 78% of executives report similar economic conditions for Utah’s economy as compared to the previous six months, while trend points to a moderating environment. The study also shows that a majority of executives, 58%, anticipate Utah’s economy will hold steady in the coming months. Over half of executives, 55%, expect stable conditions in their relative industries six months from now, while they remain optimistic about their own firm’s profits. 49% of executives expect their profits to increase moderately over the next year.

“The economic expectation index, which measures expectations six months from now, has declined for three consecutive quarters,” said Natalie Gochnour, director of Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and chief economist at the Salt Lake Chamber. “And even though CEOs’ expectations for their own firms are higher today than five of the past six quarters, labor shortages, tariffs, housing prices, and gridlock in Washington, D.C. (over immigration, budget, and trade/border issues) continue to affect the economic mood. Brexit uncertainty isn’t helping.”

To view the full 2019-Q1 report and to learn more about the CEOutlook, visit: http://slchamber.com/ceoutlook/