Summary of the financial situation

The following is a short summary of the Panel economic barometer (in Finnish and Swedish) that the Ostrobothnian Chamber of Commerce conducted among its member companies at the end of April 2024. The survey shows that the economic situation for companies in Ostrobothnia and Middle Ostrobothnia is more positive now compared to the situation in the autumn.

Global economic prospects have improved somewhat in 2024. Behind the positive development are stimulus measures in China, the slowdown in inflation, and expectations of lower interest rates. The upcoming election in the USA, Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, and military actions in the Middle East continue to be major concerns, as they can disrupt supply chains and make both businesses and consumers more cautious. Technological advancements, especially in artificial intelligence, make many economists optimistic. Finland is considered to have many strengths in adopting new technology.

Industrial order books have picked up, but insufficient demand continues to be a challenge for about half of the companies. Profitability for industrial companies is slightly worse compared to the autumn survey, but the majority of industrial companies still achieve at least the previous year’s level of profitability.

The construction industry’s long decline since spring 2021 seems to finally show signs of easing. The industry is still challenged by insufficient demand, lower profitability, and challenges in securing financing. Despite the weak economy, there appears to be a shortage of skilled labor in the industry.

The service industry is the only sector where all indicators are positive. Of the companies in the industry, 86 percent expect turnover to remain at or increase from the previous year’s level. The biggest bottleneck in the industry is the availability of skilled labor.

The trade industry has been heavily affected by the strikes during spring, as goods have been stuck in ports. Of the respondents in trade, 89 percent report that the strikes have had a negative effect on their business. However, 78 percent of companies report that turnover has remained the same or increased compared to the previous year.

Picture: Ostrobothnian Chamber of Commerce