For the past 25 years, the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce has tracked the economic pulse of its namesake city by asking Eastside business leaders to gauge the local economy, with the results compiled in the Chamber’s annual Eastside Economic Strategy Guide.
This year’s guide was released during the organization’s annual breakfast on Nov. 15, which drew several hundred people to Meydenbauer Center in downtown Bellevue.
So, how are Eastside business leaders feeling about the economy in 2019?
Economic optimism lingers, but not at the levels seen year over year for the past several years, according to the report.
The percentage of respondents who said the Puget Sound economy would expand in 2019 totaled 58 percent, a decline of 20 percent compared to 2018, and 30 percent compared to 2017. Similarly, 37 percent of respondents noted they were optimistic about their business prospects in 2019, a decline of 14 percent compared to 2018. And a little less than half of the respondents expected to add employees in 2019.
More favorably, however, 70 percent of individual business owners expected revenues to be stronger in 2019, with only 4 percent of respondents expecting revenues to decline.
Other highlights from the survey include:
Survey respondents cited transportation infrastructure and congestion; employee healthcare costs; attracting and retaining employees; business taxation, regulation, and utilities rates; and revenue generation as the biggest state and local issues that could challenge businesses next year.
Areas of Expansion:
Workforce sectors expected to do the most hiring next year include marketing and sales positions, administrative positions, and industry/technical specialists.
The industries most optimistic about their economic prospects in 2019 are business services, Information Technology (IT), finance and insurance, professional scientific and technical, and healthcare and social assistance.
The complete report is available online at eastsideforecast.com.