Business leaders in the state remain “optimistic but guarded” in their economic outlook, according to a report released today by the Iowa Business Council (IBC), but they are less optimistic than they were a year ago. 

The IBC Overall Economic Outlook Survey Index remained at 64 in the second quarter of 2013. That is the same reading as in the first quarter but four points lower than a year ago. 

The survey represents the views of the leaders of 21 of the state’s largest companies.  A reading above 50 indicates a positive outlook and a reading below 50 indicates a negative outlook.

The survey’s sales index was 70, a point lower than in the first quarter and three points lower than a year ago. All CEOs surveyed said they expect steady or increased sales over the next six months.

The capital spending index was 64, three points higher than in the first quarter but five points lower than a year ago.

The employment index is 58, two points lower than in the first quarter and five points lower than a year ago. A total of 86 percent of those surveyed expect hiring levels for the next six months to remain steady or rise.

“Business leaders remain optimistic but guarded in their assessment of the economy,” said Stan Askren, chairman, president and CEO of HNI Corp. and 2013 chairman of the IBC, in a press release.

The Economic Outlook Survey is conducted quarterly using a 100-point scale for each survey response and uses weighted averages from the survey’s 21 respondents.  The second-quarter survey was conducted in the second half of May.