The economic outlook of Iowa businesses is lower than last quarter largely because of hesitation on hiring, according to the Iowa Business Council's Overall Economic Outlook Survey Index.

The quarterly survey reflects the attitude of the the top executives of 21 of the largest businesses in the state, the three state university presidents and the head of Iowa's largest banking association. The index for the third quarter was 61; an index score of 50 indicates an average business sentiment. 

The third-quarter index is three points lower than the score for the last quarter, but  the same as it was a year ago at this time.

The largest number of the group said they expected their companies to make more sales this quarter and spend more money on capital purchases. However, 42 percent said they don't expect to add to their staffs this quarter and 26 percent expect to reduce staffing.

 Consequently, the employment index was 52 - or six points lower than last quarter and five points lower than a year ago.