3Q 2014 Middle Market Indicator

The third quarter of 2014 marked the third consecutive quarter of solid revenue growth for U.S. middle market firms. Employment growth has remained stable for the second straight quarter since significant increases were reported in 1Q 2014. While confidence among middle market leaders in the global economy is decreasing, most middle market executives remain confident in the national and local economies. In addition, capital investment plans remain stable in the 3Q as compared to the two prior quarters in 2014, and concerns about healthcare costs is easing, historically one of the top challenges for middle market firms.


Key Insights

The majority of middle market firms continue to report year-over-year increases in revenue growth with a mean total revenue growth of 7.5% this quarter - the highest percentage of growth reported since the beginning of the survey in 2012. While growth is evident across a broad range of industries, it is not evenly distributed across all middle market revenue segments.
Growth in smaller middle market firms is accelerating and larger middle market firms are experiencing stable growth. However, growth among core middle market firms is slowing. Core middle market firms are also more cautions about growth in the coming year than larger and smaller middle market firms.

Employment growth remains strong

Middle market firms have sustained significant employment gains for the second straight quarter, with companies reporting 3.5% mean total workforce growth over the past 12 months. Future employment growth expectations remain stable, with 47% of middle market firms expecting to hire over the next 12 months, and a mean total expected growth rate of 3.6%.

Confidence in the global economy dips

While middle market executives remain confident in the economy, the number of leaders reporting no confidence in the global economy increased to 26% in the second quarter or 2014. Interestingly, the decrease in global confidence is not reflected at the local or national levels where confidence remains strong.

Concerns about healthcare costs are easing

While healthcare costs and other margin pressures, including the cost of doing business, remain the most significant challenges for middle market firms, the percentage of executives indicating healthcare costs as "highly challenging" decreased significantly to 47% in 3Q 2014.

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