Iowa manufacturers are feeling uncertain about the future, according to the latest Iowa Association of Business and Industry Quarterly Business Survey. The continuing workforce shortage is among company leaders’ biggest concerns, and their declining expectations are highlighted in the results of the survey, which was conducted in the middle of this month.

Among the takeaways from the survey results:
  • 60% of respondents plan to make capital expenditures in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from 70% in Q3.
  • 56% of respondents expect the number of employees in their business to stay about the same, with 40% expecting numbers to grow.
  • 37% of respondents expect sales to expand in the third quarter of the year, while 18% expect sales to retract.

Those expectations of expanding sales are down 11 percentage points compared with the previous quarterly survey, while expected declines in sales have increased by 5 points.

The lingering talk of recession at the national level and increased costs are reflected in this survey, ABI President Mike Ralston said.

“A shortage in workforce and inflation are chief concerns,” Ralston said in a press release. “As Iowa manufacturers continue to anticipate effects from inflation and experience supply chain hurdles, they are shifting their focus to absorbing the growth they’ve experienced over the last 12 to 18 months rather than expanding sales.”

Employee recruitment and retention also remains a focus for employers, he said.

“Iowa business leaders are confident and cautious. They are always looking ahead to opportunities to improve the skills of existing employees and add new talent,” Ralston said. “ABI members continue to prioritize workforce as a top issue for Iowa businesses. It’s why workforce continues to be a legislative priority for ABI.”

Approximately half of ABI’s 1,500 member companies are manufacturers. ABI represents nearly every industry in the state.