Trendsetter Barometer® business outlook
Top findings from Q4 2016
No one wants uncertainty. And so private companies, like the stock market, greeted the end of the election season with relief, to put it mildly. Private companies’ optimism in the US economy spiked in the final weeks of 2016. Their revenue projections, however, did not have a similarly dramatic uptick. And concern over every headwind our survey asks about — including legislative pressures, increased taxation, and squeezed profitability — actually rose; a uniformity of movement we rarely see.
To deal with these headwinds, companies are taking cautious measures. Nearly all of them are prioritizing cost-cutting in 2017, as well as greater workforce productivity. And they plan to scale back raises, too, though more companies do say they’ll hire. Which is probably a good idea, since new products and services are a big priority for Trendsetter businesses this year, and you can’t do innovative R&D without the right talent on board.
During the fourth quarter, private firms remained committed to international markets. Though, in the future they may find it harder to do business abroad as Brexit moves forward and Washington possibly unravels trade agreements. Trendsetter companies also plan to keep up capital expenditures and increase operational spending. The number of firms planning the latter is at a post-recession high.
What else did we learn from the 300 private company leaders we spoke with in the final quarter of 2016? What they achieved that year and, more importantly, what they plan to achieve this year. We also heard what they think is in store for the economy — a good one-year leading economic indicator of US GDP growth. To hear about all this and more, please delve further via the thematic areas below.
About the survey