Business economists rosier on 2013 outlook

Sales growth was stable during the fourth quarter of 2012, and businesses are more optimistic about the prospects of economic growth during the year ahead, according to a quarterly industry survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics members. According to the January 2013 survey, which reflects 65 responses from NABE-member economists and analysts, a full 50% now expect real GDP to grow between 2% and 4% in the current year — up from 36% that held that view in the last survey.

Uncertainties surrounding the so-called “fiscal cliff” apparently had some effects on hiring and capital spending in the fourth quarter but perhaps not as much as many feared. even though a significant minority (27%) reported that their firms had postponed hiring in the fourth quarter, a large majority (70%) said that hiring was not affected. Similarly, 72% said there was not impact on capital spending.

“Results from NABE’s January 2013 Industry Survey indicate that business activity advanced at a steady pace in the fourth quarter of 2012,” says Timothy Gill, chair of the NABE Industry Survey Committee and director of economics at the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. “The economy continues to soldier on. Sales growth was stable, even amid widespread uncertainty surrounding the potential impact of the fiscal cliff, but gains in profit margins slowed.”

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