(Madison) –

Bankers are optimistic about Wisconsin’s current economy but split on what 2019 holds in store for the Badger State. Over half of the 99 Wisconsin bank CEOs and Presidents contributing to the latest Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) Bank CEO Economic Conditions Survey believe Wisconsin’s strong economy will stay the same in 2019. The predictions by the remaining respondents are almost evenly split as to whether the economy will grow or weaken.

“As predicted in our last survey, 2018 was a great year for Wisconsin’s economy as well as lending activity. It’s very encouraging to see most bankers believe 2019 will continue that strong performance,” explained Rose Oswald Poels, WBA president and CEO. “Bankers are the best barometers of the economy as they see all segments of every marketplace. They work together with their communities and are the first to see and understand Wisconsin’s economic trends due to their customers’ activities. In turn, our members use that information to help their communities prosper.”

Eighty-five percent of respondents rated Wisconsin’s current economic health as “good” (58%) or “excellent” (27%). Equally encouraging is the fact that 54% believe Wisconsin’s economy will stay the same over the next six months. The remaining responses are almost evenly split as to whether the economy will grow (21%) or weaken (25%).

The majority of responses to questions about other economic indicators follow this trend. When asked about the current economic health or the demand for loans, the vast majority of bankers’ response was good or excellent. When asked to predict the next six months, over half would predict the current status would continue. The remaining responses were almost even with positive or negative predictions. 

The only category to buck this trend were agricultural loans. Current demand for ag loans is fair (48%) or poor (36%). Ag loan demand for 2019 is predicted to stay the same (50%) or to weaken (42%).

Businesses will hire more employees according to 49% of the respondents, while 46% say businesses will maintain their current staffing levels. 

The survey was conducted over the first two weeks of December with 99 respondents. 

Below is a breakdown of the questions and responses.

How would you rate the current health of the Wisconsin economy…  
a) excellent 27%
b) good 58%
c) fair 15%
d) poor 0%
   
In the next six months, do you expect the Wisconsin economy to …   
a) grow 21%
b) weaken 25%
c) stay the same 54%
   
Rate the current demand in the following categories:  
Business loans  
Excellent 5%
Good 65%
Fair 26%
Poor 3%
   
Commercial real estate  
Excellent 17%
Good 54%
Fair 27%
Poor 2%
   
Residential real estate  
Excellent 6%
Good 48%
Fair 40%
Poor 5%
   
Agricultural  
Excellent 0%
Good 15%
Fair 48%
Poor 36%
   
In the next six months, do you anticipate the demand for the following loan categories will…  
Business loans  
Grow 22%
Weaken 16%
Stay the same 63%
   
Commercial real estate  
Grow 22%
Weaken 26%
Stay the same 52%
   
Residential real estate  
Grow 10%
Weaken 28%
Stay the same 62%
   
Agricultural  
Grow 8%
Weaken 42%
Stay the same 50%