The Iowa Bankers Association has developed a new survey, The Iowa Bankers Association Economic Forecast, to gauge the economic outlook in Iowa.
“There are a number of economic surveys, but few focus specifically on Iowa and its unique market segments,” said John Sorensen, president and CEO of the Iowa Bankers Association.
“By surveying Iowa’s bankers, we’ll receive an accurate barometer of our economy from those who work daily to support our consumers, businesses and agriculture.”
About the Survey
The first survey was conducted in January, and included banks that are geographically diverse and represent small, mid-size, and large metro markets. The survey asked the bankers to provide feedback on their predictions for the next six months on economic growth in their communities, the hiring outlook, marketplace changes, loan demand, interest rates and challenges to economic growth.
The survey will be conducted every six months to evaluate changing trends.
Key Forecast Highlights
A summary of the key highlights from the January 2015 survey:
1. Economic Growth Forecast: The majority of respondents (52%) were optimistic that the Iowa economy would grow in the next six months, and even more (57%) were optimistic about growth in their local economy during the same time period.
2. Hiring Outlook: The majority of respondents also expected businesses in their communities to maintain current staffing levels (57%) or hire employees (38%).
3. Marketplace Predictions: In the next six months, most anticipated expansion in the housing sector (43%) and service business sector (43%), while also anticipating contraction in the ag sector (57%).
4. Loan Demand Outlook: Most respondents anticipated loan demand would be strongest in the next six months for agricultural operating loans (48 percent) and weakest for agriculture real estate loans (52%).
5. Interest Rate Forecast: A strong majority (76%) expected interest rates to remain unchanged in the next six months, for both long-term and short-term interest rates.
6. Local Economic Challenges: The most significant challenge respondents predicted for their local economy was finding and retaining a skilled workforce. A lack of necessary skills was anticipated to be the primary barrier to hiring in the next six months. Respondents also predicted the regulatory climate would be the most significant factor to impact business startups.