Utah’s corporate CEOs have mellowed in their optimism for the immediate future of the state’s economy, according to the latest edition of the Salt Lake Chamber’s CEOutlook report.
The first-quarter 2019 Confidence Index, a sub-index of the CEOutlook, decreased from 55.5 in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 53.2 for this year’s first quarter. The report found that executives feel that the economy has reached a state of stasis and may not be zooming like it was in recent quarters. The Confidence Index is based on responses to the four questions concerning current conditions and expectations for the future. The index can range from zero to 100. A score below 50 means executives believe the economy will worsen; a score above 50 indicates a belief among executives that the economy will improve.
The CEOutlook is a statewide economic survey of Utah business executives about conomic conditions.
“This quarter’s results demonstrate the cautious optimism Utah CEOs have for both the success of their industry and increased profits for their company over the next year,” said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance. “While optimism regarding their own business and industries is strong, overall uncertainty for the next six months seems to point to a slight lag in economic expansion.”
According to the first-quarter survey, 78 percent of executives report similar economic conditions for Utah’s economy as compared to the previous six months while trends point to a moderating environment. The study also shows that a majority of executives — 58 percent — anticipate Utah’s economy will hold steady in the coming months. Over half of executives — 55 percent — expect stable conditions in their relative industries six months from now, while they remain optimistic about their own firm’s profits.
“The Economic Expectation Index, which measures expectations six months from now, has declined for three consecutive quarters,” said Natalie Gochnour, director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute and chief economist at the Salt Lake Chamber. “And even though CEOs’ expectations for their own firms are higher today than five of the past six quarters, labor shortages, tariffs, housing prices and gridlock in Washington, D.C. — over immigration, budget and trade/border issues — continue to affect the economic mood.”