CEO Economic Outlook Index

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 Q2 CEO Economic Outlook Index Declines; Expectations and Plans Decelerate Amid Continued Geopolitical, Global Economic Uncertainty

Washington – Business Roundtable today released its Q2 2022 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 CEO Economic Outlook Index declined 19 points from last quarter to 96 but remains well above its long-run average of 84 and the expansion or contraction threshold of 50.

The three subindices were as follows:

  • Plans for hiring decreased 22 points to a value of 90.
  • Plans for capital investment decreased 20 points to a value of 86.
  • Expectations for sales decreased 15 points to a value of 111.

Although the index remains above its historical average, this quarter’s results reflect a drop in CEO expectations and plans for the next six months, producing the sixth largest quarterly decline in the history of the index. The results are consistent with other surveys and economic data reflecting decelerating growth and heightened global economic concerns due to continued geopolitical and policy uncertainty.

Additionally, in response to a special question posed this quarter, more than half (56%) of CEOs had either observed delays or difficulty in delivering to customers, higher costs for consumers or both due to insufficient supply of semiconductors, with concentration in five sectors – machinery; metals and minerals; chemicals and plastic products; motor vehicles and transportation equipment; and computers and electronics. Over 90% of CEOs in these sectors reported one or more impacts from the chip shortage, including delays or difficulties delivering, higher costs for consumers or delayed or reduced capital expenditures. The range of affected sectors demonstrates the widespread impact of limited semiconductor supply.

Business Roundtable Chair Mary Barra, Chair and CEO of General Motors, said: “The softening of quarterly CEO sentiment reflects uncertainty driven by the unprecedented times we face as a nation and global community. One important step Congress can take amid this uncertainty to position the U.S. for strong long-term economic growth and competitiveness is to pass bipartisan innovation and competitiveness legislation that funds CHIPS and boosts U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, strengthens R&D and innovation investments and generates economic opportunity for American workers.”

Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten said: “To put the U.S. on stronger economic footing during this period of substantial uncertainty, Congress and the Administration should pursue policies that alleviate inflationary pressures and promote long-term growth. We urge the Biden Administration to double down on domestic energy investment and take additional action to address the elevated risk of a worsening global energy crisis. We also call on the Administration to lower tariffs. We strongly oppose efforts in Congress to impose tax increases on U.S. businesses that would erode America’s competitive standing and increase long-term economic risk.”

In their third estimate of 2022 U.S. real GDP growth, CEOs projected 3.2% growth for the year. 

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.

This quarter’s survey was in the field from May 16 to June 3, 2022. Overall, 177 CEOs completed the survey. 

Past Surveys

2022 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2021 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2020 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2019 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2018 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2017 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2016 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2015 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2014 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2013 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2012 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2011 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2010 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2009 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2008 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 2007 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4