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Iowa business leaders more optimistic in latest quarterly survey

Dave DeWitte, CR Gazette –

A group representing Iowa’s biggest employers found an improved outlook on business prospects in its latest quarterly survey of members.

The Iowa Business Council said its quarterly Economic Outlook Survey Index rose to 66.3, an improvement of four points from 62 three months ago. The survey reflects the outlook on business conditions for the upcoming six months. Any index score above 50 reflects positive sentiment.

“Stronger sales and capital spending forecasts are positive trends while the job market is slowly becoming more vibrant,” Iowa Business Council Chair Stan Askren, the CEO of HNI Corp., said in prepared remarks.

Despite the improvement from last quarter, the overall index remained almost unchanged from its level of 66.7 one year ago. Of the three survey components, two of them were lower than a year ago. The sales Outlook Survey Index of 71 was four points lower than one year ago, and the employment Outlook Survey Index of 61 was one point lower than a year ago.

The overall survey index has shown a pattern of improvement since the second quarter of 2009, when it stood at a dismal 38.3. It declined by modest amounts from the third quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2009, and from the first quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2011.

The 24-member Iowa Business Council is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization that includes top leaders at 20 of the state’s largest businesses, the three state university presidents and the state’s largest banking association.

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