A Quick Peek into Greater Omaha’s Economy
Optimistic Outlook — More than 100 of Greater Omaha’s CEOs completed this year’s Economic Outlook Survey. The majority of companies reported doing as well or better financially in 2018 as in 2017.
Furthermore, CEOs are most optimistic about their potential to grow sales revenue in 2019. Most also anticipate supporting their current levels of capital investment and employees, with more than a third expecting to increase jobs and investment.
Economic Growth in 2018 vs 2017
Growth in 2018
Approximately 60% of company CEOs said that their sales revenue increased in 2018, compared to 2017. About 40% of companies expect to increase the amount of capital investment and employment. About half said that, in 2018, their company invested relatively the same amount of capital (46.1%) and created the same number of jobs (53.9%) as 2017.
Relative Competitiveness in 2018
In addition to assessing their growth in 2018, we also asked CEOs how their company performed or grew relative to the national economy or their own industry. 89% of CEOs say their company is growing at a rate that is the same or faster than the U.S. economy. Furthermore, 89% also say that their company performs the same or better than other companies in their industry. More CEOs are optimistic that their companies are growing faster than others in their industry (53%) than the U.S. economy (44%).
Future Economic Growth
Forecasted Growth in 2019
When asked to predict how their companies will perform in 2019, more than two-thirds of CEOs (71%) project that their sales revenue will be higher. In terms of jobs, just under half (47%) expect to increase the number of employees in their company. Finally, more than a third (38%) plan to invest more capital in 2019 than 2018. When compared to previous responses, 2018 CEO respondents are slightly more optimistic than the five-year average on their future sales revenue, job growth and capital investment.
What factors are important for growth?
According to the CEOs who took the survey, the most important factors for growing their business are: labor availability, labor costs (wage/salary) and benefit costs (health insurance, retirement, etc.).
As our economy evolves, technology continues to play a pivotal role. This year, we asked our CEOs what technology their company is monitoring for future implementation or as a potential industry disruption. The most common technology expected to be a disruption or to be implemented is artificial intelligence (17.9%). After AI, CEOs are most commonly monitoring blockchain (9.8%), robotics/automation (8.9%), machine learning (6.3%) and Internet of Things (6.3%). About 8.0% of CEOs believe that technology will have little to no impact on their companies.
The largest share of surveyed CEOs’ companies belong to Professional & Business Services industries (23%), followed by Financial Activities industries (21%) and Education & Health Care industries (13%).
(Professional & Business Services includes companies offering services like: legal, accounting, architecture/engineering, design, computer system/design, professional consulting, security, landscaping, employment placement, janitorial, etc. Financial Services include companies like banks, insurance carriers, payment processors, and real estate etc.)
About a third of the CEOs’ companies have fewer than 10 employees and 11% have 500 or more. Our survey had a smaller share of companies with fewer than 10 employees and a larger share of companies in all other size categories, compared to the metro’s norm.
An email with a link to complete the 2018 Economic Outlook Survey was sent to CEOs of active member companies of the Greater Omaha Chamber and a paper version was given to Chamber Board Members in attendance at the September board meeting. Online respondents were given a three-week period to complete the survey. A total of 147 survey responses were submitted.