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2015 First Business Economic Survey Results Released

OSHKOSH, WI, – Dec. 2, 2015 – First Business released the 2015 First Business Economic Survey Results for the Northeast Region today at the New North Summit. First Business gathers the insight of local business leaders through an annual economic survey in Northeast Wisconsin, Dane County, the Greater Milwaukee Area, and Kenosha/Racine/Walworth Counties.

The 2015 First Business Economic Survey was completed by 391 respondents in four regions in Wisconsin, with 62 coming from the Northeast Region. Respondents self-reported their industry; 30% were in Professional Services, 26% in Manufacturing, 10% in Non-Profit, and others represented Retail, Food and Beverage, High Tech/Biotech and other sectors.

“The findings in the survey confirm much of what companies were feeling in 2015. The opportunities to grow are available with the largest constraint to this growth being access to a capable workforce,” said Mickey Noone, President – Northeast of First Business Bank.  “The indications for 2016 are encouraging as efforts for increase capital purchases remains high which should lead to higher levels of capacity and productivity.”

A summary of the Northeast Wisconsin findings released at the New North Summit includes:

  • 65% of respondents indicated that 2015 either lived up to expectations or was better than expected in terms of overall performance.
  • Actual Sales saw a decline from the historic high of 64% of respondents who saw an increase in sales in 2014 to a still-strong 58% who saw an increase in 2015.
  • Optimism remains very strong; 78% expect a further increase in Projected Sales for 2016.
  • 46% of respondents saw an increase in Actual Profitability in 2015, down from 54%, the previous year’s historic high.
  • Down from 2014’s historic high of 50%, 31% of respondents increased their Actual Number of Employees.
  • 67% of respondents saw Actual Wages increase in 2015, and a new historic low 2% reported a decrease in Actual Wages.
  • 34% of respondents reported an increase in Actual Capital Expenditures but those reporting a decrease were at a historic low 16%.
  • The number of respondents who saw Actual Total Operating Cost as a Percentage of Revenue increase in 2015 was at 40%, just two points above the historic low.
  • 41% of respondents reported utilizing more than 90% of operating capacity. 33% utilized between 70-90%, while 26% % utilized less than 70% of operating capacity.

The outlook for 2016 is very positive, though not at the record-breaking levels observed the previous year. Projected Sales and Profits are strong, with hiring expected to continue at a higher rate and no layoffs expected.

About First Business
First Business Financial Services is a Wisconsin-based bank holding company, focused on the unique needs of businesses, business executives and high net worth individuals. First Business offers commercial banking, specialty finance and private wealth management solutions, and because of its niche focus, is able to provide its clients with unmatched expertise, accessibility and responsiveness. For additional information, visit www.firstbusiness.com.

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