Business owners and executives in the United States are looking ahead to 2016 with high expectations for the U.S. economy, according to a BMO Harris Bank study. Positive sentiment increased considerably compared to the results of the same survey last year.

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More than 80% of respondents expect the U.S. economy either to improve or stay the same in 2016, while only 17% expect the economy to get worse. In addition, 70% of respondents believe their businesses will grow in the coming year, with 2% forecasting a decline in business growth.

“The survey results reinforce what we are hearing from our commercial customers, who continue to invest in their businesses and drive our economy forward,” said David Casper, president and CEO, BMO Harris Bank.

The survey asked 839 business owners and executives if they believe the U.S. economy will improve, stay at the same level or worsen in 2016.

  • 49% expect the economy to improve (38% last year)
  • 34% expect the economy to remain the same (41% last year)
  • 17% expect the economy to worsen (21% last year)

The survey also asked if they believe their business will grow, stay at the same level, or shrink in 2016:

  • 71% predicted growth in 2016 for their business (56% last year)
  • 27% expect their business to remain at the same size (37% last year)
  • 2% believe their business will shrink in 2016 (7% last year)

“Businesses are reaping the benefits of investments and productivity improvements, and buoyant consumer demand is creating opportunities,” said Michael Gregory, head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. “However, as we look ahead to 2016, we see challenges for businesses, including a strengthening U.S. dollar and escalating labor costs. As such, economic prospects depend critically on continued business investments and productivity improvements.”

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