Business economists feeling more optimistic

In the last three months, U.S. business economists have become a little more optimistic about economic growth.

They also sales at their companies remaining solid.

That is the latest from the latest survey by the National Association for Business Economics released Monday.

It found that 67 percent of the business economists who responded to the survey are expecting moderate economic growth of 1.1 percent to 2 percent over the coming year.

That was essentially unchanged from the October survey. But the proportion of business economists who expect significantly stronger growth of 2.1 percent to 3 percent jumped to 30 percent from 20 percent in the previous survey in October.

The government will report this week on economic growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, for all of 2019.

Many economists have estimated that growth last year slowed to around 2.3 percent, from 2.9 percent in 2018, which had been the strongest performance since 2015.

The general expectation is that 2020 growth will slow further to perhaps 1.7 percent. That would be a disappointment for President Trump, who insisted as a candidate in 2016 that his policies would double the lackluster economic growth of the past decade to annual rates of 4 percent or better.

Still, speaking at an economic forum last week in Switzerland, Trump proclaimed that the U.S. economy is benefiting from “’extraordinary prosperity,” with the lowest unemployment in a half century and a record-high stock market.

The NABE business survey, compiled from 97 responses of NABE members from late December through early January, found that for the first time in a decade there were as many respondents reporting declines in employment at their companies as were reporting increases.

The survey found a significant increase in the percentage of companies that reported shortages of unskilled labor. And nearly half reported shortages of skilled labor.

To help attract workers, roughly half of those responding to the survey said their companies had raised wages in the past three months. An even bigger 62 percent expect their businesses to raise wages in the coming quarter.


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