Mar 21, 2017 - 3:15pm

The Trump Bump: 60 Days In, Optimism Soaring Among Companies of Every Size

Senior Editor, Digital Content


President Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Louisville, Ky.
President Donald Trump speaking at a rally in Louisville, Ky.

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.

What's more, 70% said they expect an improved economy over the next six months.

Two data points illustrate middle market optimism.

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


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

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.

To borrow from U.S. Chamber Chief Economist J.D. Foster, the expectations of the federal government unshackling businesses, whether it’s the regulatory roll back by President Trump’s executive orders, Congress passing Congressional Review Act resolutions, health care legislation moving through Congress, or serious discussion about tax reform and infrastructure improvements, have given “businesses the breathing room and the confidence to increase investment.”

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

Will this optimism continue? That depends on Washington sealing the deal on its promises of reducing regulations, health care reform, tax reform, and infrastructure improvements.

“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.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

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.