Despite the gathering clouds of economic and political uncertainty, Lee County business executives were slightly more optimistic in October than they were in August.
An index prepared by the Regional Economic Research Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University hit 66 in late October, an indication that Lee County business executives expect the local economy to improve at a less-than-moderate pace. But the October reading is an improvement over the August index, which registered 62.
The index ranges from 0 to 100, with 50 being neutral and no change in the economy. It's calculated from three questions regarding current and future economic conditions.
Among other findings:
• 62% of executives say current economic conditions have improved over the past year;
• 77% expect the economy to improve next year;
• 73% of executives expect economic conditions for their industry to improve next year;
• 40% say they've hired employees over the past year while 12% say they cut back;
• 54% say they plan to hire more people next year while 2% plan to reduce staff;
• 55% say they plan to increase investments next year and 3% expect to reduce investment spending;
• The top three conditions limiting business expansion are limited demand because of a slow economy, regulatory uncertainty and a lack of qualified employees.