Limerick Chamber business sentiment survey for Summer 2023 results launched. Seán Golden, Chief Economist and Director of Policy at Limerick Chamber said, “While there is uncertainty out there amongst consumers, the business environment is broadly positive despite substantial increases in cost over the past year.“
Limerick Chamber has launched the results of its business sentiment survey for Summer 2023 which closed on September 1
Limerick Chamber has launched the results of its business sentiment survey for Summer 2023. The survey, which closed on September 1, takes the economic pulse of the whole Mid-West region from a business perspective.
The findings of the survey report show 59 per cent of businesses have expanded the size of their workforce since January 2023, while 48 per cent intend to continue hiring over the next six months.
The expansion of businesses in the Mid-West has been met with challenges in securing skilled labour as 63 per cent of respondents found it difficult to recruit and retain staff. However, the top barrier to filling vacancies is seen by businesses to be housing, followed by childcare and candidate expectations of flexible working options.
Business Position appears healthy, as 87 per cent of respondents intend to invest in their business over the next 6 months. Similarly, another 87 per cent do not intend to apply for a business loan in the next 6 months, meaning that the vast majority can self-fund the investment in their business. Finance is not seen as a major limiting factor, in fact, Demand, Cost of Labour, and Supply Chain Issues are the top three limiting factors, in that order.
Commenting on the release, Seán Golden, Chief Economist and Director of Policy at Limerick Chamber said, “While there is uncertainty out there amongst consumers, the business environment is broadly positive despite substantial increases in cost over the past year. 87 per cent of businesses surveyed plan to invest in their business over the coming six months, with 48 per cent expecting to hire more staff.”
Overall, business outlook appears positive. 70 per cent consider the present situation of their company to be good / very good as the remainder outline that they consider it satisfactory.
Just 15 per cent of respondents require additional office space, while 9 per cent require less office space. 61 per cent of respondents do not require any additional space. This trend comes about as 59 per cent of respondents expect to work a hybrid model, 39 per cent full time in office and 2 per cent fully remote over the coming six months.
Mr Golden added, “Interestingly, most businesses are operating a hybrid model, although the number has decreased since last year, this is feeding into demand for office space. Ultimately, feedback from this survey has been focused on talent and staffing, with existing skill shortages most businesses have turned to upskilling existing staff , while the second most popular choice for responding to skill shortages has been to outsource work, where possible it is very important that we can keep this outsourcing within the Mid-West.”
87 per cent of businesses experienced increased insurance costs, of which 54 per cent experienced a 1 per cent – 10 per cent increase and 28 per cent experienced an 11per cent-20 per cent.
93 per cent experienced increases in their energy costs, of which, 30 per cent experienced a 21 per cent – 50 per cent increase, and 9 per cent experienced a 51 + per cent increase in energy cost. 70 per cent also foresee increases in supplier prices in the next 6 months.
In terms of issues facing the Irish economy, the Increasing Cost of Living (52 per cent) and the supply and Affordability of Housing (35 per cent) prevail as the top issues.
Mr Golden continued, “Ultimately, the housing crisis is acting as a barrier to expansion and with 50,000 adult children living with parents across the Mid-West, there is significant pent up demand to tackle.“
Commenting on the release, Dee Ryan, Chief Executive at Limerick Chamber said, “Most businesses surveyed are reporting issues attracting and retaining skilled workers. Businesses outline the key barrier to attracting workers is the availability of homes to rent and purchase. One of Ireland’s key selling points for both indigenous and international investment has always been our people.
“However, we have now moved to a position whereby businesses are here, they want to invest, they want to expand their workforce, but housing is emerging as the key barrier to doing so. Despite dealing with a plethora of other issues such as energy costs, insurance costs, wage inflation, upskilling staff, supply chain issues, CSRD reporting etc. businesses also are now closely watching the housing market and how it caters for their teams. We are beginning to see movements in cost rental, this is most welcome and something Limerick Chamber has long been advocating for.
“However, it is also important to prioritise home ownership, which ensures mixed tenure in developments, gives strong roots to workers in a community but also is sensible financial planning for workers as they consider their housing security at pension age when they potentially are reliant on a state/social welfare pension that may not be able to sustain high rents in retirement.”