Milwaukee-area businesses expect continued economic growth, MMAC survey indicates

Downtown Milwaukee skyline
Downtown Milwaukee skyline. Photo by Shutterstock

The number of Milwaukee-area employers expecting improved sales, profits and employment in the coming months increased in the latest Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce Business Outlook Survey.

The survey, which included responses from 87 area companies, found 77% of businesses expect to see a sales increase after adjusting for inflation in the third quarter, up from 66% heading into the second quarter and 62% entering the first quarter.

Profit expectations also improved with 69% expecting profit growth in the third quarter compared to 57% heading into the second quarter. The third quarter reading is the highest since the second quarter of 2015.

More employers are also expecting to see job gains, with 57% planning to add employees in the third quarter, compared to 47% heading into the second quarter.

“The current national economic expansion reached a record length in July at 121 months,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director. “Business optimism in the Milwaukee area suggests that this record is highly likely to lengthen in future months.”

Responses were largely similar between manufacturing and non-manufacturing firms, although manufacturers were slightly more likely to predict higher levels of inflation for the rest of the year.

Larger firms were a little more likely than smaller ones to expect increases in sales, profits and employment for the third quarter. Smaller firms, however, predicted an average wage increase of 4% over the next 12 months compared to 3% at larger firms.

Smaller firms were also more likely than large ones to predict a rise in capital expenditures for all of 2019.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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