Half of respondents to a GSA Daily reader survey said midyear revenue at their companies was up from the beginning of the year, while slightly more were optimistic about revenue increasing by the end of the year. The biggest obstacles facing readers today are uncertainty in the broader economy, interest rates, cost of health care coverage, and labor costs and quality.
GSA Business polled its email readers on their midyear economic outlooks. Out of 18 responses, 16 readers said they come from small businesses of fewer than 250 employees, and two said they were at large businesses of more than 500 employees. We asked readers a series of questions about performance at their companies year to date and their projections out to year’s end.
We first asked readers whether revenue was up or down year to date:
- 50.0% said revenue was up.
- 28.0% said revenue was down.
- 22.0% said revenue was unchanged.
Readers were then asked where they saw revenue at year’s end:
- 55.0% said revenue would increase.
- 17.0% said revenue would decrease.
- 28.0% said revenue would remain flat.
Next, readers were asked whether capital spending was up or down year to date:
- 39.0% said capital spending was up.
- 33.0% said spending was down.
- 28.0% said there was no change.
We then asked about their companies’ year-end outlook for capital spending:
- 39.0% saw capital spending rising.
- 22.0% saw capital spending slowing down.
- 39.0% expect spending to stay flat.
The next question asked about hiring year to date:
- 50.0%, said hiring was up since Jan. 1.
- 5.6% said hiring was down.
- 44.4% said hiring was flat.
Readers’ hiring outlook for the next six months:
- 50.0% saw hiring up in the next six months.
- 5.6% saw hiring down.
- 44.4% predicted no change.
For the second part of the poll, readers were then presented with 10 potential problems businesses face and asked which ones posed the biggest obstacles right now. Readers were given the option to select more than one answer or write in a response.
Fifteen people who identified their businesses as small businesses answered this question; here’s how they responded:
- 60.0% Cost of health care coverage.
- 60.0% Uncertainty in the broader economy.
- 40.0% Labor costs or quality.
- 26.7% Poor sales.
- 26.7% Taxes.
- 20.0% Availability of capital.
- 13.3% Competition from national or international business.
- 13.3% Competition from local business.
- 6.7% Interest rates.
One reader wrote in, “Permitting processes are exasperating.”
Two people who came from large companies answered this question; here’s how they selected:
- 100.0% Uncertainty in the broader economy.
- 50.0% Interest rates.
- 50.0% Cost of health care coverage.
- 50.0% Inflation.
- 50.0% Competition from local business.
- 50.0% Poor sales.
- 50.0% Taxes.
Economic uncertainty was at the heart of some reader comments. One wrote, “Signs all point to things continuing to move forward, but there still seems to be something tenuous about the overall economy and holding things back from really kicking out of the seven-year doldrums.”
“Larger companies and investors have capital to spend, but the uncertainty of so many variables — health insurance cost, taxes and regulations — are preventing them from investing,” another reader commented. “They will wait until the ‘rules’ are clear.”
A third reader suggested change in the government, saying, “Government reform would benefit our whole economy especially with the way the (Department of Transportation) and Infrastructure Bank handle our road maintenance and construction.”