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First Business Economic Survey of Northeast WI Shows Increases in Hiring and Record Highs in Wages for 2016

OSHKOSH, WI, – Dec. 13, 2016 – The results of the annual First Business Economic Survey for Northeast Wisconsin were released today. Each fall, First Business takes the pulse of local businesses through an annual economic survey in Northeast Wisconsin, the Greater Milwaukee Region, Southeast Wisconsin, and Dane County. The survey focuses on the current year’s actual and next year’s predicted: sales revenue, total operating costs, capital expenditures, profitability, number of employee, changes in wages, and changes in pricing.

First Business has annually underwritten the survey to help business owners achieve a broad based and up-to-date understanding of their local business climate, which includes information that can be utilized in planning for the
coming year.

Mark Meloy, CEO of First Business Bank commented, “The Economic survey this year reflects solid performance by companies and also a very bullish outlook for 2017. Most notably, 52% are looking to hire more, and a mere 6% think they will be less profitable next year.”

A summary of Northeast Wisconsin findings released today includes:

  • 67% of respondents indicated that 2016 either lived up to expectations or was better than expected in terms of overall performance.
  • The most commonly cited reasons for not meeting expectations in 2016 was domestic sales shortfall and skills shortages.
  • 68% of respondents expect performance to improve further in 2017.
  • In 2016, 46% of respondents saw an increase in Actual Sales while 69% expect an increase in Sales Revenue in 2017.
  • The percentage of respondents who saw an increase in Actual Profitability during 2016 remained flat compared to last year at 46%. There was, however, a slight increase in those (69%) who expect Profitability to go up in 2017.
  • After a sharp decrease in 2015, those who increased their Actual Number of Employees spiked to 44% in 2016, and 52% say their expected Number of Employees in 2017 will be higher.
  • A new high of 74% of respondents saw Actual Wages increase in 2016, while none of the respondents, for the first time ever, reported a decrease in wages.
  • The percentage of respondents reporting an increase in Actual Capital Expenditures in 2016 remained flat at 34%
  • The number of respondents who saw Actual Total Operating Cost as a Percentage of Revenue increase in 2016 was at 45% up slightly from last year.
  • 40% of respondents saw an Actual Pricing increase in 2016, and a record 55% saw prices remain the same.

The outlook for 2017 is strongly optimistic, in spite of not being as optimistic as it had been during the historic high levels of a couple of years ago.  With 67% of respondents expecting increased sales next year, 46% expect increase profitability which may be due 52% of respondents looking to hire more employees next year.

Download the full First Business Economic Survey Report for Northeast Wisconsin at: www.firstbusiness.com/survey.

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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