Economic Outlook Survey finds Sangamon County businesses have mixed expectations for the economy

SPRINGFIELD – The Survey Research Office at the University of Illinois Springfield will release the Fall 2016 Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey on Friday. Nov.11. The study examines the economic perceptions, expectations and evaluations of Sangamon County businesses as well as public and non-profit organizations.

The Fall 2016 survey reveals that economic expectations for the overall economic situation of Sangamon County have increased slightly since the spring of 2016. Almost a third of respondents (31 percent) expect to see an increase in the state of the overall economy in the next 12 months, compared with 25 percent in the spring of the same year. However, two-thirds (66 percent) of those surveyed also believe that inflation will increase this year, compared with 53 percent who said the same thing six months ago.

Regarding respondents’ expectations for their own firms/organizations, views are less optimistic. While almost half of those surveyed (49 percent) say they expect their own sales to increase in the next 12 months, the study finds that in the Fall of 2015, 67 percent of respondents had that same expectation. Likewise, 46 percent expect profitability to rise in the next year and 45 percent think that the overall status of their businesses/organizations will improve in the coming year. However, these percentages show declining optimism if compared with the Fall 2015 survey, where 52 percent looked for profitability to increase and 53 percent believed the overall status of their firms would get better.

Respondents were asked to identify the three biggest challenges for their business over the next 12 months from a list of pre-identified challenges. A majority (53 percent) report that the state’s government finances are going to be one of the biggest challenges facing them in the next 12 months. Employers also identified government regulations and taxation and consumer confidence (42 percent each) as important challenges looming in the year ahead.

The Fall topical section asked respondents what effect specific economic development strategies would have in Sangamon County. Respondents were asked to say whether these strategies had a negative effect, no effect, or a positive effect. Of the 11 strategies, respondents were most positive about repairing infrastructure (83 percent), investing in local public schools (76 percent), lowering utility costs (75 percent), providing employers with tax incentives (75 percent), and expanding workforce training programs (74 percent).

The Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey has been conducted biannually since 2008. The results were gathered from 330 local organizations that were contacted in October via email invitations using Qualtrics Research Suite, a platform for online surveys.

The Fall 2016 Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey is sponsored by the UIS Chancellor’s Office, the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership and The Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the methodology and the full report, which will be released on Friday Nov. 11, please visit the UIS Survey Research Office website at www.uis.edu/surveyresearchoffice.

Questions about the survey may be directed to Juan Carlos Donoso, director of the UIS Survey Research Office, at 217/206-7956 or jdono2@uis.edu.