• Economic Survey Results

December 13, 2013

Topic: Business Leadership

2014 Milwaukee Area Results

The results of the 2014 First Business Economic Survey for the Greater Milwaukee Area are in. Find out what Milwaukee area business leaders are said about 2014 actual and 2015 predicted:

  • sales revenue
  • total operating costs
  • capital expenditures
  • profitability
  • number of employees
  • changes in wages
  • changes in pricing
  • demand for education and experience levels in job applicants

A summary of the Greater Milwaukee Area findings released at today’s event included:

  • The Sales Revenue numbers were significantly more positive in 2014. The percent of companies reporting an increase in Sales Revenue increased by 27%, from 55% in 2013 to 72% in 2014. The percent of companies reporting decreased Sales Revenue this year fell by 22%, from 43% in 2013 to 21% this year.
  • 80% of service businesses are projecting an increase in sales- an all time high. 
  • The percentage of companies projecting a decrease in Profitability for 2014 saw a statistically significant decrease from 44% last year to 31% this year.
  • Majority of businesses that did not project any change to profitability last year , are projecting an increase this year.
  • Significantly different from the last four years’ trends, companies reporting the same number of employees in Greater Milwaukee decreased significantly in 2014. The percent of businesses reporting an increase in the Number of Employees increased significantly by 28% points, from 18% in 2013 to 46% this year.
  • Wages saw a statistically significant increase in Greater Milwaukee counties in 2014. The percentage of companies reporting an increase rose, while the percentage reporting no change or a decrease fell. The percent of firms reporting an increase in Wages grew from 46% last year to 56% this year. The percent of firms reporting no change in Wages fell by 9% points from 45% in 2013 to 36% in 2014.
  • More companies shifted from no change to increases in Pricing. The number of companies reporting an increase in Pricing increased from 46% in 2013 to 56% this year. The number of companies reporting no changes to Pricing fell by 9% from 45% in 2013 to 36% in 2014. So , margins should improve as confidence and investing come back.
  • Regarding operating costs, half of all sectors project an increase in operating costs. However, they continue to look for efficiencies and a bit cautious to increase costs , and manage variable expenses.  
  • A significantly higher percentage of companies are operating between 70%–90% capacity.
  • Manufacturing sector seems to be leading the charge on capital expenditures for 2015. 
  • The highest percent of companies cited Domestic Sales Shortfall as a reason for low performance (40%). Behind Domestic Sales, businesses rank High Operating Costs and Staffing Issues (both 22%) as reasons for low performance in 2014.
  • As you might expect , with labor shortage and increased production ,there is wage pressure . Raises thought to be 1-3% range. 
  • Companies in the Greater Milwaukee Area are more optimistic about their performance in 2015 than in any year in the history of this survey. A statistically significant record high of 86% of companies expect to perform better in the coming year, compared to73% of businesses in 2014. Companies that expect worse performance has decreased to 14% from the 2014 percentage of 27%; this change is also statistically significant.

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