• Businesses Offer Encouraging 2018 Outlook

    OKLAHOMA CITY - December 27, 2017


    New Survey Shows Expectations for Job Market Stability

    Insights from Across the Country

    Infrastructure, Tax Reform, Distribution Centers Credited for Strong Job Markets


    As the year comes to an end, business owners across the country are looking toward 2018 and offering their outlook for the first quarter and beyond. Perspectives, though largely positive, do vary across the country, with regional factors affecting expectations.

    Anne Woods, an Express franchise owner in Covina and Santa Fe Springs, California, notes that the local employment market is holding steady.

    "The market is not changing either way," she said. "All economic indicators remain positive."

    However, Reid Bates, who owns Express offices in the Washington cities of Olympia, Aberdeen and Centralia, said the market is much more bullish, in part because of federal policymaking.

    "The employment environment is trending up," he said. "Employers are starting their search early and often, given the heightened awareness of a tight labor market. The outlook for a strong business environment, due in part to tax relief, is fueling part of that growth on top of an already heating up economy."

    In a survey of businesses, Express asked respondents, "Is your current employment market staying the same, trending up or trending down."

    • 49 percent said "staying the same"
    • 42 percent said "trending up"
    • 9 percent said "trending down"


    In Mobile, Alabama, Express franchise owner Chris Ashcraft said that business leaders are optimistic about the future. He cites specific developments in his market.

    "In the past year, Amazon and Walmart opened distribution centers, Airbus is building a new line to produce aircraft, shipbuilding is ongoing, and business at the port of Mobile has increased by 19 percent," he said.

    John Calabrese, an Express franchise owner in Utica, New York, said his market is trending up in part because of infrastructure investments.

    "Many of our employers are going through business expansions that will include the addition of new employees," he said. "We are seeing big investments in infrastructure across our client base and the need for skilled workers to support their growth. The fourth quarter was stronger than in years past for employment growth here, and we expect that to continue into 2018."

    Bettye Taylor, a managing director in Oklahoma City, describes most businesses as "cautiously optimistic," and notes, "in my division, a key indicator is seeing an uptick in manufacturing jobs." She added, "I'm also seeing an overall increase in the creative roles-marketing, sales, advertising, etc. These are typically the last to 'come back,' so it's another sign of confidence in the economy."

    "It's very encouraging that the Express franchise owners are seeing a continuing trend improvement in their local job markets," said Bob Funk, CEO of Express, and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. "However, the biggest challenge we continue to see isn't a lack of jobs but a lack of qualified and available workers. I see that challenge only growing as we head in 2018."

    The survey of 462 businesses, which are current and former clients of Express Employment Professionals, was conducted in November and December 2017 to gauge respondents' expectations for the first quarter of 2018.



    About Robert A. Funk

    Robert A. "Bob" Funk is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has more than 770 franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than 6 million people to work worldwide. Funk served as Chairman of the Conference of Chairmen of the Federal Reserve and was also the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.


    About Express Employment Professionals

    Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated $3.05 billion in sales and employed a record 510,000 people in 2016. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually. For more information, visit

    If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bob Funk to discuss this topic, please contact Sheena Karami, Director of Corporate Communications and PR, at (405) 717-5966.