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U.S. Businesses Optimistic for Growth, Uncertain About Economy

April 13, 2016, 06:50 AM
Filed Under: Economy

Executives from middle market businesses and small businesses have positive expectations for the performance of their companies over the next 12 months, at 70 percent and 69 percent respectively, according to results from the 2016 JPMorgan Chase & Co. Business Leaders Outlook report.

But their perceptions of the economy as a whole are varied, especially globally with only 10 percent of middle market executives and 27 percent of small business executives expressing global optimism.

"While business leaders admittedly see challenges overseas, they continue to see opportunities at home and anticipate positive growth in international markets over the next few years,” said Jim Glassman, Senior Economist at JPMorgan Chase.

Middle Market Businesses: Survey Results Highlights


While 70 percent of businesses are optimistic about their own company’s performance, expecting their revenue/sales to increase this year (65 percent), they are decidedly less so the farther they get from home:

  • Local economy: 50 percent optimistic, compared to 62 percent in 2015;
  • National economy: 39 percent optimistic, compared to 68 percent in 2015;
  • Global economy: 10 percent optimistic, compared to 19 percent in 2015.


The top challenges facing businesses in 2016 are:

  • Revenue/sales growth (74 percent), named by the most respondents in the history of the survey. The retail industry was even higher at 86 percent.
  • Limited supply of talent (40 percent), especially in the construction (63 percent) and services (50 percent) industries. 
  • Managing labor costs (40 percent) which is highest in the West (52 percent).

International Growth

Despite challenges and overall global pessimism, businesses nevertheless project strong international growth for their companies:

  • Among the 60 percent who are globally active, seven out of 10 (70 percent) expect their overseas sales to increase in the next five years.

“The challenges facing middle market businesses, especially those related to hiring talent and managing costs are indications of growing pains,” said John Simmons, Head of Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries, Commercial Banking, Chase. “It is a positive sign that even with concerns about the global economy, their growth expectations remain strong.”

Small Businesses: Survey Results Highlights


Sixty-nine (69) percent of small businesses are optimistic about their own company’s performance, with optimism on the economy strongest closer to home – this is consistent with sentiment from previous years:

  • Local economy: 53 percent optimistic, compared to 55 percent in 2015;
  • National economy: 43 percent optimistic, compared to 47 percent in 2015; 
  • Global economy: 27 percent optimistic, compared to 26 percent in 2015.


Fifty-eight (58) percent of small business plan to obtain financing this year, higher than the 52 percent of 2015. The top reasons for using the proceeds – for those considering loans of $100K or less – are:

  • Buying and repairing equipment (19 percent);
  • Purchasing inventory (18 percent); 
  • Expansions (15 percent); 
  • Software and technology (15 percent).


The top challenges facing small businesses for 2016 are:

  • Growing revenue/sales (48 percent);
  • Uncertainty of economic conditions (33 percent);
  • Taxes (28 percent).

“The challenges they are facing are certainly significant, yet not out of the ordinary for small businesses,” said Jennifer Piepszak, CEO, Business Banking, Chase. “Their general eagerness to seek financing is a strong sign that they are readying for near- and long-term growth.”

For more information on the 2016 Chase Business Leaders Outlook survey results, visit

The 2016 Business Leaders Outlook survey was conducted from January to February. A total 1,394 middle market senior decision-makers (annual revenue between $20 million and $500 million) and 950 from small businesses (annual revenue between $100,000 and $20 million) responded to an online survey. The results of the survey are within statistical parameters for validity, and the error rate is plus or minus 2.5 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval.

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