Confidence Jumps in 5th Annual Chase Business Leaders Outlook Survey

As company size grows, so does optimism about national economy

NEW YORK--()--U.S. businesses report growing optimism about the economy and easing concerns about credit and regulation, according to the 2015 Chase Business Leaders Outlook released today.

“We’re seeing a positive combination of business leaders feeling better about their companies and effectively managing regulatory challenges, such as healthcare and taxes,” said John Simmons, Head of Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries.

For the first time in the study’s five years, middle market companies’ optimism about the national economy exceeds the outlook for their local economy and industry performance. About two-thirds (68%) of middle market companies are optimistic about the U.S. economy, compared with 54% in 2014.

Meanwhile small business owners have the brightest outlook in the three years Chase has surveyed them.

Businesses of all sizes reported lower confidence about the global economy, with pessimism among middle market companies increasing to 26% from 15% from last year, and 31% for small businesses in 2015.

As in past years, small businesses are most optimistic about their local economies.

“Small business owners have their fingers on the pulse of the local economy, so it’s especially encouraging to see their confidence in their customers and communities continue to grow,” said Jennifer Piepszak, CEO of Chase Business Banking, which generally serves businesses up to $20 million in annual revenue.

This year Chase surveyed more than 3,600 senior decision-makers from small businesses (revenue between $100,000 and $20 million) and middle market companies (revenue between $20 million and $500 million).

Here are other highlights on what business leaders expect in the year ahead:

Sales and profit growth

  • A majority of both middle market and small business respondents expect sales and profit growth in 2015, with about three-quarters (73%) of larger companies and 60% of small businesses projecting revenue growth.
  • Optimism about profits is higher among middle market companies, with 66% expecting to grow profits compared with 55% of small businesses. Business leaders in the retail industry expect to see the biggest increase in both revenue/sales (80% vs. 67% in 2014) and profits (78% vs. 55% in 2014).

Regulatory environment

  • Year over year, and for both middle market and small business leaders, concerns about taxes, healthcare regulation and fiscal policy are all lower than in 2014.

Borrowing and capital expenditures

  • Concern over the availability of credit dropped in 2015, especially among small businesses (8% lower than 2014), indicating business leaders feel more confident about their access to the capital to support their business plans.
  • Planned capital expenditures are on the rise, especially for companies with more than $500,000 in annual revenue.

Talent: an increasing priority

  • Business leaders have a growing concern about a limited supply of talent, which outranked labor costs and regulatory requirements among expected challenges in 2015. Respondents said positions requiring technical/trade skills remain the most difficult to fill.
  • Regionally business leaders in the West are more likely to increase full-time personnel, and companies in the South are more likely to decrease full-time employees than in other regions. Among those who plan to increase hiring, 86% plan to do so because of anticipated sales growth. The most common reason for restraining hiring is increased efficiency/productivity (49%).

Impact of Lower Oil Prices

  • About half of all business leaders said lower oil prices had a positive impact on their businesses, although larger companies – especially in the South – were more likely to react negatively.

Global Activity

  • Larger companies are more likely than small businesses to be engaged in international operations, with 57% of middle market companies active in the global marketplace. Companies in the Northeast are more likely to be globally active than those in other regions; those in the South are less focused on international business.

To access the full report, visit www.chase.com/businessleadersoutlook.

About Chase

Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.6 trillion and operations worldwide. Chase serves nearly half of America’s households with a broad range of financial services, including personal banking, small business lending, mortgages, credit cards, auto financing and investment advice. Customers can choose how and where they want to bank: 5,600 branches, 20,000 ATMs, online, mobile and by phone. For more information, go to www.chase.com.

Contacts

JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Media:
Chase Communications
Ed Kozmor, 302-282-7170
edward.kozmor@chase.com
or
Mary Jane Rogers, 303-244-3142
maryjane.h.rogers@chase.com

Contacts

JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Media:
Chase Communications
Ed Kozmor, 302-282-7170
edward.kozmor@chase.com
or
Mary Jane Rogers, 303-244-3142
maryjane.h.rogers@chase.com