Negative Business Confidence in Q1 2023 ABCI
- February 6th, 2023
Business confidence throughout the state remained mildly negative in the Q1 2023 Alabama Business Confidence Index (ABCI) survey. With over 60 percent of panelists forecasting worse conditions, the outlook for the US economy was the lowest for the quarter at 34.4. This quarter, the indexes for all of the industry categories fell: industry profits and capital expenditures are expected to decrease with mild confidence while sales are forecast to continue at the same rate as last quarter. Industry hiring was the only positive index for Q1 2023 with a mildly positive index of 53.6, with 34 percent of panelists anticipating an increase in their hiring compared to Q4 2022.
CBER’s forecasters expect very mild growth in 2023. The rebound of Alabama GDP is slowing, with only a 0.1-percent increase expected this year, and employment in the state is forecasted to remain somewhat stable and only decrease by 0.3 percent. Despite that, CBER anticipates significant growth in the Alabama tax receipts due to strong consumer spending.
The ABCIs for Alabama’s metro areas are all below 50 this quarter, but level of confidence in those forecasts varied. Huntsville had the highest ABCI at a mildly negative 47.9, followed closely by Mobile at 47.0. Both metros had moderately confident hiring indexes, which set them apart from the other metros. Tuscaloosa had an ABCI of 45.6, with neutral expectations for sales and hiring. Birmingham-Hoover and Montgomery had the lowest ABCIs of 43.5 and 42.9, respectively. The indexes in these metros were all mildly to strongly negative, with the exception of Montgomery’s mildly positive hiring forecast.
Panelists in professional, scientific, and technical services had the highest industry index at a moderately positive 55.9, with strongly confident expectations for increased sales and hiring compared to the previous quarter. Business leaders in construction are also forecasting increased hiring and sales, though with milder confidence, leading them to be the only other group to have a positive industry index at 52.5. Five of the nine industry groups still have positive expectations for hiring in Q1 2023, but most industries are forecasting decreased profits and capital spending compared to their Q4 2022 levels.
All three firm size groupings had negative ABCIs in the Q1 2023 survey. Midsize firms, those with 20 to 99 employees, had the lowest ABCI at a moderately negative 42.7, while the ABCIs for small firms, those with up to 19 employees, and large firms, those with 100 or more employees, were only mildly negative. This is the third consecutive quarter that the midsize firms have had a lower ABCI than their counterparts. Midsize firms had the lowest values for all of the component indexes in the Q1 2023 survey except hiring, where their moderately positive index of 55.1 was the most confident of all the groupings’ forecasts.
The ABCI is an initiative of the Center for Business and Economic Research located in the Culverhouse College of Business, The University of Alabama. This makes 85 consecutive quarters that the Center for Business and Economic Research in UA’s Culverhouse College of Business has measured sentiment about the economy and industry prospects in the state. Be sure to do your part by contributing to this unique forecasting tool in the Q2 2023 survey on March 1-17. You can view past and current reports by clicking on the buttons above or following this link: https://cber.culverhouse.ua.edu/alabama-business-confidence-index/.