Fox Cities businesses reported a decline in overall economic performance in 2013 when compared with 2012, according to the results of the latest economic outlook survey conducted by the
Only 41 percent of the 213 businesses that responded to the survey reported that their profits last year were ahead of 2012 levels. Four out of 10 businesses said gross sales in 2013 were the same or behind sales activity in 2012.
"We saw fairly significant decline in both sales and in profits within the companies that we surveyed," said
The news wasn't all bad, however. Employment levels stabilized last year, with fewer companies showing an increase or decline in the workforce.
"There weren't as many companies that were hiring, but there weren't as many companies that were laying people off either," Burkhardt said. "We know that manufacturing as a sector did grow a very significant number -- over 1,000 positions within our service area in the last year, which we're very pleased with. That's about five times the rate of the U.S. growth in manufacturing during the same period."
And though hiring fell short of employers' projections in 2013, business leaders are even more optimistic about job growth this year. About 47 percent of businesses anticipate an increase in local employment this year, up from 43.5 percent in 2013.
--Manufacturers surveyed found it more difficult to find qualified workers in 2013, while a majority of financial, insurance and real estate firms rated the availability of qualified workers in the Fox Cities as excellent or good.
--The percentage of companies planning expansions this year (16 percent) is considerably smaller than those that anticipated expansions in 2013 (30 percent).
--Although the percentage of companies experiencing declines in profits increased in 2013, a higher percentage of companies surveyed expects to see higher profits in 2014 than in 2013.
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