U.S. chief executives are more positive about the country’s economic outlook than they have been since the fourth quarter of 2009. The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index rose from 74.2 in the fourth quarter of last year to 93.3 in the current quarter, the first time in seven quarters that the index has risen above its historical average of 79.8.
CEOs who were surveyed also posted an 18-point gain in the subindex that measures plans for future hiring. Increases of 21.0 and 18.4 points were also posted in the sales expectations and capital expenditure subindexes, respectively.
Jamie Dimon, chairman of the Business Roundtable and CEO and chairman of JPMorgan, said:
I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to enact a meaningful pro growth agenda that will benefit all Americans. As these results confirm, business confidence and optimism have increased dramatically. Our CEOs are committed to working collaboratively with policymakers to drive policy solutions, starting with far-reaching tax reform and a smarter approach to regulation.
In the three categories surveyed — sales expectations, capital spending and employment — more than three-quarters of CEOs expected sales to rise in the next six months, up from two-thirds in the fourth-quarter 2016 survey. Nearly half (46%) plan to increase capital spending in the next six months, up from 35% in the fourth-quarter survey, and 41% say they plan to increase employment, up from 35% in the prior quarter.
The first-quarter 2017 survey was conducted between February 8 and March 1, 2017, and responses were received from 141 member CEOs.