Monthly business forecast for San Diego continues to lag

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SAN DIEGO – The monthly business forecast released Tuesday by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce continued to lag near its lowest level of the year.

Each month, the chamber asks around 200 of its members to project their hiring plans and the business climate over the next three months. An index created from the results hit a 2017 low in August and only recovered slightly last month, according to the chamber.

“We’re seeing a similar pattern in the (Business Outlook Index) between August and September of 2016 and 2017,” said Tom Wornham, president and CEO of San Diego Private Bank, which sponsors the index. “The big dip we’ve seen over the last two months suggests 2016’s downturn may not have solely been a product of heated politics. The anomaly may be the first six months of the Trump administration, when the index was about 10 points higher.”

The index ranges from plus-100, for completely optimistic, to minus-100, for totally negative — with 100 being neutral.

In August, the index fell around eight points to plus-13. In September, it rose to just plus-14.7.

The index had been hovering in the mid- to low-20s most of this year.

Despite lower confidence recently, expectations about revenue in the near future are good, which kept the score in positive territory, according to the chamber. The survey found that businesses located in the North County coastal area are the most confident while those in construction are the least confident about near-future prospects.