The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index is based on a survey — conducted quarterly since the fourth quarter of 2002 — of our member CEOs’ plans for hiring and capital spending, and their expectations for sales, over the next six months. Taking these factors together, the survey signals the direction of the U.S. economy.

Business Roundtable Q1 CEO Economic Index Signals a Resilient, Accelerating U.S. Economy

Over 75% of CEOs Believe Government Policies Are Undermining American Free Enterprise, Cite Excessive Regulation and Overreaching Antitrust Actions as Top Risks

Washington – Business Roundtable today released its Q1 2024 CEO Economic Outlook Survey, a composite index of CEO plans for capital spending and employment and expectations for sales over the next six months. 

The overall Index increased by 11 points from last quarter to 85, slightly above its historic average of 83 for the first time since 2022. CEO plans for capital investment and expectations for sales are up by double digits from last quarter. Additionally, plans for hiring ticked up modestly.  

“This quarter’s survey results underscore the resiliency of the U.S. economy and suggest accelerating economic activity over the next six months,” said Business Roundtable Chair Chuck Robbins, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Cisco. “To further strengthen the economy, the U.S. needs to double down on policies that spur domestic investment and bolster American competitiveness. The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act is at the top of that list. The House passed this vital measure in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, and we strongly encourage the Senate to swiftly follow suit.”

The Survey’s three subindices were as follows:

  • Plans for hiring increased 5 points to a value of 60.
  • Plans for capital investment increased 16 points to a value of 78.
  • Expectations for sales increased 13 points to a value of 118.

In their second estimate of 2024 U.S. GDP growth, CEOs projected 2.1% growth for the year. This is up marginally from the 1.9% growth projected in their first estimate last quarter. 

In a special question posed this quarter, CEOs were asked whether they believe that government policies are undermining American free enterprise. Over 75% of CEOs answered “yes.” Of those who answered in the affirmative, 92% of CEOs cited excessive regulation and 63% cited overreaching antitrust actions as policies that are undermining or present a risk to the free enterprise system and the benefits it provides.

“Our free enterprise system continues to expand opportunity for all Americans, but we are deeply concerned about government policies that are putting America’s future prosperity in jeopardy,” said Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten. “A large majority of our CEOs are worried that excessive regulation and overreaching antitrust actions are eroding the foundation of free enterprise and the benefits it provides. We urge policymakers to recommit themselves to promoting economic growth, creating more American jobs and increasing economic mobility.”

This quarter’s survey was in the field from February 15 through February 29, 2024. In total, 159 CEOs completed the survey.

Summary table of 2024 Q1 survey results

About the Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly since the fourth quarter of 2002, provides a forward-looking view of the economy by Business Roundtable member CEOs. The survey is designed to provide a picture of the future direction of the U.S. economy by asking CEOs to report their company’s expectations for sales and plans for capital spending and hiring over the next six months. The data are used to create the Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index and sub-indices for sales, capex and hiring. These indices are diffusion indices that range between -50 and 150 — where readings at 50 or above indicate economic expansion, and readings below 50 indicate economic contraction. A diffusion index is defined as the percentage of respondents who report that a measure will increase, minus the percentage who report that the measure will decrease. The diffusion indices here are then normalized by adding 50 to the result.

Past Surveys