Alabama business optimism as measured by the Alabama Business Confidence Index™ is a project of The University of Alabama. The current results mark 44 consecutive quarters that The University has surveyed business confidence.
An index of 50 is neutral with results below that number predicting economic contraction and confidence above 50 suggesting economic growth.
Montgomery continues to be the most optimistic of the four metro areas tracked by the survey with an index of 51.3 for the fourth quarter of this year.
Confidence among Mobile businesses rose 2.1 points to 51.0, following the Airbus announcement and improving job growth.
Outlooks in Birmingham and Huntsville fell moderately. Birmingham’s index of 49.7 suggests a generally flat economy this quarter. Federal government cutbacks and uncertainty continue to depress Huntsville sentiment, where business confidence registered 44.3, the lowest of the metro areas tracked.
Overall, the Alabama index registered 48.3 indicating that both the economic environment and business prospects in general will be modestly weaker for the state as a whole compared to the third quarter of 2012. The national economy index declined 1.4 points to 42.6, following last quarter’s dramatic 10.5 point slide.
The numbers suggest that Alabama’s economy, particularly the Montgomery and Mobile metropolitan areas, will fare significantly better than the national economy.
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William Bruce is an Alabama business broker and appraiser who participated as a respondent in this survey.