BMO Harris Bank survey shows Americans optimistic about 2016 economy

A healthy majority of respondents to a nationwide survey anticipate improvement in the U.S. economy in 2016 —especially compared to last year — according to Chicago, Illinois-based BMO Harris Bank.

More than three quarters of survey participants expect the nation’s economy to maintain or improve in 2016, while only 17 percent indicate doubt. With 70 percent trusting that their own businesses will grow, only 2 percent expect declines.

"The survey results reinforce what we are hearing from our commercial customers, who continue to invest in their businesses and drive our economy forward,"  David Casper, BMO Harris Bank’s president and CEO, said. "We are encouraged by these findings; and we look forward to helping our customers, and prospective customers, meet their financial needs in the coming year."

BMO Harris implemented the study in the latter part of 2015, asking 839 randomly selected business owners and executives to express their beliefs about the nation’s economic performance in 2016. Just less than half of the participants (49 percent) foresee improvement—up from 38 percent one year ago. Slightly more than a third (34 percent) believes that the economy will stay the same, while 17 percent expect economic affairs to worsen.

"Businesses are reaping the benefits of investments and productivity improvements, and buoyant consumer demand is creating opportunities," Michael Gregory, U.S. economics specialist for BMO Capital Markets, said.  "However, as we look ahead to 2016, we see challenges for businesses, including a strengthening U.S. dollar and escalating labor costs. As such, economic prospects depend critically on continued business investments and productivity improvements."

When asked about their own businesses, many more (71 percent) envision growth than previously (56 percent); substantially fewer (27 percent) guess there will be no change as compared to last year (37 percent); and a mere 2 percent think their enterprises will shrink, less than before (7 percent).

BMO Harris Bank, founded in 1882 as Harris Bank and owned by BMO Financial Group, delivers a wide array of banking services throughout Illinois and seven additional states.

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