Regional Business Survey

Regional Surveys for 2009, 2010 and 2011


The complete survey results from all five surveys are available to download in Adobe Acrobat:

333 owners, managers, and executives took part in our most recent Regional Business Survey. Conditions are generally improving, even as concerns grow about the pace of recovery. Total respondents decreased by 33% from the previous survey in Winter 2010 and by 23% from the Regional Business Survey one year earlier. Key observations:
  1. 57.3% of respondents described their firm’s business activities as “strong” or “very strong”, compared to 7.5% reporting that business was “weak” or “very weak”. The percentage reporting “strong” or “very strong” business activity was up 9% YOY and 2.6% from six months earlier, seeming to confirm a slowing recovery. However 11.4% of respondents state activity is getting “weaker” (0.0% “much weaker”), compared to a combined 9.5% stating “weaker” or “much weaker” six months ago.
     
  2. The percentage of respondents reporting higher total revenues and net profit dropped 4.3% and 4.8%, respectively, from six months ago, as those claiming lower total and net revenues, respectively, increased 0.9% and 2% in the same period. 35% of respondents stated the same amount of total revenue.
     
  3. Compared to six months ago, more companies (32.8%) reported growth in their employee counts. This is nearly double the number reporting growth two years ago (17.1%), and slightly ahead of mid-2010 (29.5%). But the percentage expecting to hire more over the next six months fell substantially since the end of 2010 from 42% to 25.2%. A slim majority (53.9%) of survey participants state their employee counts will not change, while 10.9% expect to have fewer employees.
     
  4. “Unpredictability of business conditions” (53.7%) and “slowing or lost sales” (25.2%) remained the two leading responses for those listing their “most immediate problem.” “Ability to recruit qualified workers,” a category appearing for the first time one year ago, remains the third-largest category at 9.5%.
     
  5. Regional businesses report their most serious long-term problem as “long term economic stagnation,” a response that scored 37% compared to 30% in summer 2010 and 22% in summer 2009. But managers and executives aren’t inactive in meeting challenging times. They reported “spent more time networking and building relationships” (73%), “cut back on spending” (65.8%), “ramped up their marketing efforts” (54.5%), and/or “expanded their products or service offering” (41.5%) – multiple choices were allowed for this choice.
     
  6. 56% of respondents expect the area economy to grow again “sometime in 2013 or later.” The percentage of respondents expecting a double-dip recession increased YOY, though just barely, from 32.6% to 33.2%.
     
  7. Respondents listed “Debt reduction” (20%), “Job creation” (18%) and “Education/workforce development” (15%) as their top three economic development priorities for elected officials at all levels. Survey results closed weeks before the debt ceiling debate reached “resolution” and before the S&P downgrade. Still, most respondents’ opinions of elected officials’ responses to potential national default could hardly have gone lower, judging from the open-ended comments.
     
The Chamber’s Regional Business Survey is a twice-yearly effort to gauge economic activity and attitudes in the Kansas City region as part of a broader effort to provide more unique, regional economic data for our members. Data are drawn from a non-scientific, self-selected sample of regional business managers and executives.

For more information, contact David Albrecht, Director for International Programs and Business Research, at (816) 374-5446 or email albrecht@kcchamber.com.