Private companies start 2017 with an optimism surge

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

Since 1995, PwC’s Trendsetter Barometer® has tracked the views of top executives at US private firms and the trends these reveal, including leading economic indicators. In the final quarter of 2016, 300 private company leaders were interviewed by the independent firm BSI Global Research, Inc. Many of these companies are tracked from quarter to quarter, drawn from a relatively constant reservoir of survey participants.



Contact us

Shawn Panson
Private Company Services, Leader
Tel: +1 (973) 236 5677

Ken Esch
Private Company Services Partner
Tel: +1 (312) 298 3419

Margaret Young
Private Company Services, East Region Leader
Tel: +1 (864) 577 8816

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