2018 Business Leaders Outlook Survey Shows Midwest And Manufacturing Industry Expect To Benefit From Federal Tax Cut, National Optimism At All-time High

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Almost 1,700 companies across the nation completed the 2018 Business Leaders Outlook survey from JPMorgan Chase & Co., with most expressing optimism for the economy. In the Midwest, 71 percent of executives said they expect to benefit from the federal tax overhaul, which was signed into law on Dec. 22, 11 days before the survey began. The law slashed the corporate tax rate to 21 percent.

In the Midwest, 18 percent of executives said their companies would benefit to a great extent because of the tax cut, while 53 percent said their companies would benefit somewhat. From an industry standpoint, 19 percent of executives from the manufacturing industry thought their companies would benefit to a great extent because of the tax cut, while 54 percent said their companies would benefit somewhat.

Nationally, 17 percent of executives said they expected their companies to benefit to a great extent from the tax reform, while 53 percent think their companies will benefit somewhat. About 21 percent expected to benefit very little, and 9 percent don’t think they will benefit at all.

Of the companies that expect to benefit from the tax reform, 44 percent said they would use their savings to pay down debt, and 43 percent said they would invest in capital expenditures.

Nationally, 50 percent of executives said a reason for the talent shortage in the U.S. is because of the unique skills required for jobs. Likewise, 56 percent of executives said technical/trade positions are the most difficult to fill. About 11 percent of executives said they were extremely worried about the limited supply of talent, while 34 percent said they were very worried.

Across the country, 69 percent of middle market executives said they are optimistic about the global economy. This statistic is up 39 percentage points from 2017. About 89 percent of executives said they are optimistic about the national economy, up nine percentage points from last year. These are the highest levels in optimism in the survey’s eight-year history.

This survey provides a snapshot of the current business environment. The results are based on the responses of 1,685 C-suite executives from middle market companies in various industries across the country. This year’s survey was conducted from Jan. 2-19. About 33 percent of the companies surveyed are based in the Midwest.

For more survey results, click here.

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