A new survey of Iowa's largest employers shows their expectations for the next six months in sales and employment are growing modestly, while their expectations in capital spending remain the same. 

"Tempering the optimism is the uncertainty surrounding federal government debt and budget issues," said Stan Askren, the chairman, president and CEO of HNI Corp. in Muscatine and 2013 chair of the Iowa Business Council (IBC).  

IBC's 2013 first-quarter Economic Outlook Survey, which projects business activity for the next six months, shows that employers are growing more optimistic about the economy. The overall index rose two points to 64. However, the reading is lower than in February 2012, when the index sat at 66.3. 

The index falls on a 100-point scale, with a reading above 50 reflecting a positive sentiment about the future.

The individual index readings in sales and employment both rose from last quarter, while the capital spending index remained the same. 

  • The sales index rose three points to 71, with 90 percent of the CEOs saying they expect steady or increased sales over the next six months. 
  • The capital spending index held steady at 61, with 86 percent of CEOs expecting steady or increased capital spending levels through May 2013.
  • The employment index rose three points to 60, with 86 percent of CEOs expecting hiring levels for the next six months to remain steady or grow.
IBC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose members are the top executives of 21 of the largest businesses in the state, the three public university presidents, and the head of Iowa's largest banking association.