Nearly nine out of 10 Indiana business owners optimistic

The Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. PNC Bank found 87 percent of business owners in Indiana are at least moderately optimistic.

Indiana business owners aren't as optimistic as they were during the spring, but remain generally bullish about the direction of the economy — nearly nine out of 10 see better days ahead.

PNC Bank's Survey of Small & Middle-Market Business Owners found a record 91 percent of business leaders in the Hoosier state were optimistic or moderately optimistic about the national economy this spring. That dipped to 87 percent this fall, but it's still significantly higher than the 58 percent of Indiana business owners who were at least moderately optimistic last fall.

"Indiana’s economy remains mostly positive," PNC Economist Kurt Rankin said. "The state continues to attract tech companies and entrepreneurs, while expanded airport services are expected to fuel the economy. Much of the state will see rising incomes due to an external boost from increased national consumer spending. Advance manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, professional services and skilled construction trades are among the fastest-growing industries and provide high-wage jobs for residents."

PNC's survey further found about 90 percent of Indiana business owners were at least moderately optimistic about the local economy, while only 9 percent were pessimistic.

About 63 percent of business owners in the Hoosier state expect sales to increase over the next six months, while 61 percent believe their profits will increase. About 27 percent expected to hire more workers, up from 20 percent in the spring and only 16 percent last fall. Only 3 percent of business owners say they expect to cut headcounts.

"Our fall 2017 survey shows that small and mid-sized business owners in Indiana remain highly optimistic about the prospects for their own businesses and the U.S. economy, although optimism has moderated from the historic highs of spring 2017, in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 elections," Rankin said.

Indiana business owners are more optimistic than the national average, PNC found in the survey. Nationally, only 54 percent of business owners expect sales to rise over the next six months, while only 25 percent expect to hire more workers.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.