Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Published

March 21, 2017

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President Trump has energized middle-sized companies.

That’s one takeaway from the latest Middle Market Business Index (MMBI), a new partnership between tax and auditing firm RSM and the U.S. Chamber.

The survey of middle market companies, those with $10 million to $1 billion in annual revenue, found that their increased business optimism at the end of 2016 accelerated in the first quarter of 2017.

At 129.8, it’s at its highest levels ever measured. Any reading above 100 means the middle market is expanding; anything below means it’s contracting.

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Two data points illustrate middle market optimism.

Half the companies surveyed expect to increase capital expenditures or investment—its highest level since Q2 2015.

MMBI: Aggregate capital expenditures/investments' performance

And slightly more plan to hire more workers in next 6 months.

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This optimism stems from improved federal policy expectations. Two-thirds expect positive regulatory changes, over 60% expect good things from tax reform, and over half think health care reform and infrastructure improvements will help their companies.

MMBI: Impact of substantial policy changes during the next two years on organization.

Businesses of Every Size are Optimistic

If the rule is that three of something makes a trend, then we have one when it comes to business optimism.

The February, NFIB’s small business survey showed near record-high levels of optimism. On the other end of the size spectrum, The Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook of America’s largest companies is on the upswing.

When you include the MMBI, we see a broad swath of positivity from businesses.

NFIB small business index

Source: National Federation of Independent Business.

“Failure to deliver would represent a huge risk to the outlook,” said RSM Chief Economist Joseph Brusuelas.

This should give the White House and Congress the impetus to keep working to fulfill the lofty expectations businesses have for them.

About the authors

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Sean Hackbarth

Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.

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