Quarterly Survey Results Suggest Georgia CEO Readers Are Optimistic in the New Year

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

The results of the 2017 fourth quarter (Q4) Georgia CEO survey suggest that Georgia business leaders’ confidence levels have increased significantly since the third quarter survey.

The purpose of the survey is to better understand how general business conditions are impacting Georgia CEO subscribers on a quarterly basis. Georgia CEO partners with the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research (CBAER), formerly the Bureau of Business Research and Economic Development (BBRED), a member of the Georgia Southern University College of Business, to prepare, distribute and analyze the survey.

In Q4 of 2017, survey participants showed a significant increase in confidence levels due to a perceived improvement in the overall economy likely from the prospect of more business- friendly legislation. Looking ahead to Q1 of 2018, participants noted record breaking or near record breaking levels of optimism driven by the aforementioned factors and by the passing of the new tax plan. Looking forward, the survey responses suggest general business conditions are improving across all categories, across the State.

“Going into 2018, business sentiment is at its highest point ever recorded by this survey. Recent changes in fiscal policy and the anticipation of starting a new year is boosting sentiment,”said Ben McKay, Research Specialist at CBAER.

Looking back to Q4, 57 percent of survey respondents believe business activity volume is improving compared to Q3’s 46 percent. Participants also feel more confident in employment prospects at 44 percent compared to Q4’s 32 percent, while 15 percent have increased confidence levels regarding financial health and 10 percent feel more confident in profitability.

When asked directly about general business conditions, 58 percent believe conditions will improve, while 37 percent view conditions as unchanged. Looking to the next quarter, 63 percent of respondents see sales increasing, an increase from 51 percent in the Q3 survey. Participants also expect an increase in hiring, from 32 percent in Q3 to 42 percent in Q4, profitability with a positive change of 13% and more access to capital. The primary factors influencing outlook are increased demand and government policy. Survey respondents credit a strengthening economy and a change in tax policy for the positive outlook to start 2018.

A convenience sampling technique was used for this study and the questionnaire was emailed to subscribers of each of nine Georgia CEO daily newsletters, in addition to being posted on BBRED and Georgia CEO social media platforms. Georgia CEO publishes a newsletter in Albany, Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Middle Georgia, Newnan, Savannah and Valdosta. The survey was open from January 11, 2018, through January 21, 2018, with 215 valid responses recorded.