Wisconsin’s middle market business leaders have rosy outlook

JPMorgan Chase survey shows increased optimism


Leaders at Wisconsin’s middle market firms are feeling more optimistic than last year about the economy and their companies’ performance, according to a new survey by JPMorgan Chase.


The Business Leaders Outlook Survey shows 85 percent of middle market leaders are optimistic about their companies, up from 71 percent in 2016. Of the respondents, 77 percent expect revenue to increase over the next 12 months, up 7 percent from 2016. And 68 percent expect profits to rise over the next 12 months, up 5 percent year-over-year.

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When it comes to the economy, they’re even more positive. About 88 percent are optimistic about the national economy, up a whopping 49 percent from 2016, while 64 percent were optimistic about the local economy, up 16 percent year-over-year. And just 28 percent were optimistic about the global economy, which is still a 21 percent jump over 2016.

When it comes to biggest challenges, 77 percent of respondents said revenue growth, up 2 percent from 2016. At the same time, 49 percent said limited supply of talent, up 3 points over last year, and 38 percent said managing labor costs, up 5 percent year-over-year.

From a regulatory standpoint, health care laws most concern 67 percent of those surveyed, down 5 percent from 2016. Fiscal policy is most concerning for 49 percent, down 4 points. And environmental regulations are a top concern for 45 percent, up 9 points year-over-year. In fact, Wisconsin companies are especially worried about EPA and environmental regulation; just 34 percent of middle market business owners listed it as a top concern in the national survey.

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International trade policies are also top of mind for 39 percent of Wisconsin middle market business owners, which surpasses the national rate of 30 percent.

The Business Leaders Outlook Survey was conducted from Jan. 3 to 20 and included more than 1,400 executives from U.S. middle market firms, defined as between $20 million and $500 million in annual revenue. About 80 Wisconsin companies participated.

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