Closing an unusually bumpy year, San Diego County business confidence ended 2016 in lukewarm territory, according to the region’s leading business outlook index.
The index maintained most of its recovery from two months before, coming in at 16.8 for December. That was lower than November’s reading of about 18 but well above the year’s low of 9 in October.
Thus concluded the volatile and overall negative trend of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Business Outlook Index in 2016. Following a year in which it varied by no more than about 11 points, the gauge ranged from a high of 27 in March to October’s low, a spread of 18 points.
By the end of the year, confidence had slipped eight points, as compared with a 4-point net decline in 2015.
Chamber President and CEO Jerry Sanders saw “renewed optimism” that he attributed to positive expectations for the incoming Trump administration.
“Moving forward we will see how this optimism responds as the administration takes action on (its) more business-friendly policies promised during the campaign,” he said in a Jan. 20 news release.
Dino D’Auria, executive vice president and chief banking officer at the outlook’s sponsor, Silvergate Bank, also made note of the recovery since October.
“Although 2016’s yearlong trend has been downward, this month’s steady position shows the renewed optimism captured in the election’s wake was no blip,” he said in the release.
Individual industries’ outlooks differed significantly. The chamber’s outlook summary said finance companies ended 2016 with a reading of 36, and beauty/fitness businesses came in at 57. But the confidence of development/construction and advertising/promotions firms was “waning,” it said, without providing comparable figures.
Some of the variance may also relate to political views. The outlook’s question of the month – “What effect, if any, do you think the Trump administration will have on the U.S. economy” – yielded somewhat predictable partisan results.
Fully 91 percent of Republicans, who made up about 45 percent of survey respondents, indicated they think the incoming administration will have a positive effect on the national economy.
But only 13 percent of Democrats surveyed expect positive results, according to the index. They comprised 13 percent of respondents to the survey done Dec. 13-29.
Fifty-four percent of those expressing no party preference indicated they think the Trump administration will have a positive effect on the U.S. economy.