26 November 2015
By Elaine Murphy
Cork Chamber’s third quarterly economic trends survey of 2015 reports increases in turnover, net profit, employee numbers, and strong business confidence as regards the future, reflecting a positive overall outlook on current market conditions and an encouraging future outlook. This quarter’s survey paid particular attention to assessing views on Budget 2016 and the expected impact of this budget on business activity and growth.
Commenting on the survey results, Barrie O’Connell, Cork Chamber President stated, “The survey which is representative of a broad spectrum of business sizes across a variety of industries reported that a significant 68% of businesses indicated that Budget 2016 was a positive budget for business, with 91% of businesses reporting confidence in the financial future of their business. It is positive to highlight that confidence about the financial future of businesses has increased significantly since the Cork Chamber economic trends survey series began in Q1 2009. This is a very reassuring sign and these survey results reflect the strengthening position of businesses as the Cork region looks to the future”.
Of significance, 60% of respondents asserted that Budget 2016 will have a positive impact on employment and jobs creation, with 81% of respondents viewing Budget 2016 as ‘positive’ for increasing consumer which again reflects a positive future outlook and reinforces existing confidence levels. Of further significance, when surveyed regarding the expected impact of Budget 2016 on supporting entrepreneurship, 45% of respondents indicated that Budget 2016 will have a ‘positive impact’, with 47% stating that there will be ‘no change’, and 6% stated that the budget will have a ‘negative impact’ on entrepreneurship.
With reference to business confidence, Mr. O’Connell stated that “the 91% of businesses reporting confidence in the financial future of their business is reinforced by the strong performance of businesses over Q3 2015, with 62% of businesses reporting an increase in turnover, and with 61% of businesses anticipating an increase in turnover for the forthcoming quarter”.
Survey findings regarding employment are also positive with 41% of businesses increasing the number of people employed over the third quarter of 2015, while during the same period, just 4% decreased their workforce. Positively, 47% predict an increase in employee numbers during the fourth quarter. Mr. O’Connell added “it is without doubt that there is again a sense of buoyancy and confidence within the business community, one that has been lacking in assuredness over the past number of years. It is great to see this level of growth and confidence becoming more embedded in the outlook of the business community”.
Businesses also appear more positive as regards the overall impact of government policy on a number of indicators. In Q3 2015, 14% of businesses indicated a positive impact compared with just 7% in Q2 2015, while 20% indicated a negative impact which shows a slight reduction from 22% in Q2 2015. 46% of businesses believed that government policy had a positive impact on the restoration of fiscal policy, which shows a similar belief to that of Q2 2015 at 45%.
Overall, the findings from the third quarter of 2015 – regarding business confidence and reported and projected business and employment growth – reinforce the wider national positive trends across the Irish economy, revealing a continued positive outlook and supportive financial results in terms of turnover, net profit and employment levels amongst Cork businesses. Critically however, there continues to be an issue for businesses in Cork with filling vacancies which reflects on the availability of a suitably skilled workforce in the region which was highlighted among the top three threats to business growth along with cost competitiveness and levels of taxation.
It is evident that even though there is a positive feeling as regards the future economic outlook, there are clear actions that businesses encourage should be pursued in the future, in concluding, Barrie O’Connell, Cork Chamber President added, “the full and comprehensive review of supports for entrepreneurs and the self-employed, the improved stimulation of infrastructure development such as housing and a complete review of the income tax regime in Ireland with emphasis on attracting home talent, have been highlighted within the survey as areas for focus in the future”.