South Burlington – Today, Lisa Ventriss, President of Vermont Business Roundtable (VBR) and Jeffrey
Carr, President, Economic & Policy Resources (EPR), announced the Q2 2017 outlook results of their joint
initiative, the VBR-EPR Business Conditions Survey and Index.
The latest survey, which was conducted during the first two weeks of April 2017, achieved a response
rate of 70 percent overall and included a 50 percent or greater response rate from 12 of 14 represented
sectors within the membership. Survey results show that:
• Three-quarters of respondents (74%) shared negative outlooks specifically with ease of hiring
for available positions, compared to half (51%) in the previous survey;
• More than half of responses to the question about the state’s overall business climate outlook
were neutral (55%). The remaining responses were split between positive (24%, compared to
46% in the previous survey) and negative (21%).
• The information sector had the most optimistic outlook (67% optimistic) on the general business
climate, while the healthcare sector had the least optimistic outlook (20% optimistic).
The raw (unweighted) survey data was easily compared to the quarterly, national Business Roundtable
CEO Survey of national and multi-national companies, which contains similar questions to the VBR/EPR
Survey in terms of employment and capital spending (www.brt.org). Comparing these two surveys
• Vermont companies are predicting slightly lower capital spending plans and a more neutral or
stable employment outlook than their national counterparts.
When comparing VBR/EPR survey results against national GDP data (Table 1), we find that
• Vermont’s outlook appears to have shifted from an “improvement” trend to a slide back to
“neutral”, given the responses from this and the previous survey, and continues to demonstrate
that economic conditions overall remain somewhat uncertain in many areas of the State and
sectors of Vermont economy.
Table 1: Comparison between the VBR and National GDP Data
Also included in the survey was the opportunity for Roundtable members to express their opinions on
other topics impacting their businesses.
• Based on the highest frequency of comments, respondents expressed concern about the
relatively high cost of living in Vermont; high health care costs; and shrinking labor pool.
• The quarterly survey is a tool for tracking business conditions and forecasting the future of
Vermont’s economy, by providing insight into business sentiments and trends. Specifically, the
survey provides both a look back at the previous quarter and a predictive index going forward.
• The data for both the backward and forward-looking questions are weighted to the Vermont
economy by sector employment and turned into “diffusion indices”. 1 These diffusion indices
provide a tool for analyzing and presenting insight into the Vermont economy over time through
the sentiments of the Roundtable members. The survey asked eight retrospective and prospective
questions about the CEOs’ economic outlook, demand, capital spending, and employment.
The next survey will be conducted in early July, 2017.