TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Business confidence continues to increase in the state of Alabama, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce.
Business confidence gained 2.5 points in the second quarter of the 2017 “Alabama Business Confidence Index,” a quarterly survey conducted by CBER.
“For the second consecutive quarter, Alabama business leaders are anticipating increased sales, profits, hiring and capital spending with the highest levels of confidence in 10 years,” said Susannah Robichaux, socioeconomic analyst for CBER. “The average ABCI for the last five years is 53.8, which indicates expectations for growth but without the strong confidence we have seen in both quarters of 2017.”
The ABCI is compiled from a quarterly survey sent to business leaders throughout the state gauging their expectations for the coming quarter compared with the current. The six component indexes that make up the ABCI reflect panelists’ expectations for industry sales, profits, hiring, and capital expenditures, as well as their forecasts for the statewide and national economies. An index value above 50 indicates a positive outlook, and the higher the index, the more confident the economic outlook.
In general, Alabama business leaders have increased their expectations for the statewide economy this quarter, with the Alabama economy index gaining 1.9 points to reach 67.6 this quarter. This is the second consecutive quarter that the Alabama economy index has reached a 10-year high and the 16th consecutive quarter that Alabama business leaders have expected growth in the statewide economy.
Just under 70 percent of panelists forecast growth in the Alabama economy in the coming quarter, and only 3.6 percent of Alabama business leaders anticipate a worse outlook for the state in the second quarter of 2017. The statewide economic index slightly decreased in Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery but remained fairly confident at or above 65.0 in all of the metro areas.
The overall industry outlooks are positive in most categories with fairly high confidence in growth with six of the nine industry ABCIs above 62. Wholesale trade and an umbrella category of services, which includes professionals in education, accommodation and arts and recreation, are the most optimistic about growth in the second quarter, with ABCIs above 70 and strong confidence in increasing sales.
Panelists in healthcare and social assistance expect a continuation of last quarter’s growth, while business leaders in transportation, information and utilities are expecting a slight slowdown compared with their performance in the first quarter of 2017.
Business sentiment in Alabama’s four largest metro areas remains very optimistic, with all metros forecasting growth in the second quarter of 2017. ABCI Mobile and ABCI Birmingham-Hoover show the strongest confidence with overall index scores of 65.5, but even the lowest metro ABCI, which was recorded in Montgomery, reached 63.6 this quarter.