Business confidence in Nebraska falls after month of growth

Aug. 3, 2018, 4:03 a.m. ·

Business confidence in Nebraska fell in July after rising for the first time in months in June, according to a survey from the Bureau of Business Research.

Business confidence fell to 106.4 in July, a nine-point-decrease from the previous month. The results are a summation of four questions sent in a survey to 500 random businesses and households each month. The results are compared to a neutral value of 100.

Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research, said July’s survey results are indicative of a positive trend in business confidence in the state over the past three to four months.

“We have seen more of a signal of solid, moderate confidence rather than the strong confidence we saw at the beginning of the year. So, that’s more evidence of a trend of moderation in the economy,” Thompson said.

Consumer confidence also dropped two points from June to 101.9 in July.

Thompson said business and consumer confidence have remained positive for the last two years, despite fluctuating between strong and moderate levels of confidence since the beginning of the year.

“There’s some evidence that the optimism about future businesses and households is still present, but it’s moderate,” he said.

The survey also gathered information on pressing issues faced by households and businesses. According to the survey, taxes were the most common concern among households, while concerns about labor availability and costs for goods and services were the most common concern for businesses.

“For the first time, taxes were the most common factor named by households, sort of their top concern regarding their finances,” Thompson said. “After that there was concern about the cost of health care as well as just the general cost of living.”

Around 25 percent of respondents said they were concerned with debt and savings, and nine percent said their top concern was their level of income.

“I would say that, compared to the typical month, the cost of living was in focus during July among households, with a particularly strong level of concern about the tax burden,” Thompson said.

Thompson said concerns surrounding state and local taxes have been building for months.

“Part of that is related to property taxes, but some of the respondents are more concerned in general about state and local tax levels,” Thompson said.

Thompson said it’s too early to tell whether tax concerns will continue to be a sustained issue among households. He said the public could be hoping for state and local tax relief to accompany federal relief, but only time will tell.

“That is certainly something I am curious about,” he said.