Big-business CEO optimism now above historical averages


CEO optimism increased above historical averages in the fourth quarter for the first time since the pandemic hit the nation, according to a Business Roundtable survey released Monday.

The organization's overall index in its fourth-quarter survey was 86.2, which is above its average of 81.5. The index was up 22.2 points on the quarter and up more than 50 points from the second quarter.

The survey showed that more CEOs project sales, capital spending, and hiring to increase over the next six months.

The current survey also shows that more CEOs believe that operations have either fully recovered from the pandemic or will fully recover by year-end.

Still, a clear majority of chief executives, 83%, remain concerned about the recent spike in coronavirus infections and want the government to provide additional relief.

“While the economic outlook of Business Roundtable CEOs continues to improve, America’s leading employers remain concerned about the recent rise in coronavirus cases and its impacts on American public health and the pace of economic recovery. … We urge lawmakers to work in a bipartisan fashion to enact further economic support,” said Joshua Bolten, Business Roundtable's president and CEO.

Since 2003, CEOs have been asked every fourth quarter to identify the greatest cost pressure facing his or her company. In the survey released Monday, 40% of Business Roundtable CEOs identified labor as the top cost pressure, followed by 16% identifying regulations and 14% identifying materials.

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