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 CEO Economic Index Dips Slightly on Hiring Plans, Majority of CEOs Express Strong Support for Permitting Reform

Washington - Business Roundtable today released its Q2 2023 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 dipped a modest three points from last quarter to 76, remaining below its historic average of 84. Continued moderation in CEO plans and expectations reflects ongoing concerns about inflation, higher interest rates and the broader global economy. 

In a special question posed this quarter, 82% of CEOs agreed reforming U.S. permitting processes for energy infrastructure projects is necessary to improve American energy security and accelerate the clean energy transition. 

“Business Roundtable members have long advocated for modernizing the permitting system, including most recently supporting the inclusion of reforms in the bipartisan debt ceiling deal,” said Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten. “We look forward to working with Congress to build on this important step forward with additional reforms and other policy wins for the U.S. economy.” 

This quarter’s results reflect a continued reduction in CEO plans for hiring, a slight increase in capital spending and no change in expectations for sales for the next six months.

Specifically, the three subindices were as follows:

  • Plans for hiring decreased 9 points to a value of 56.
  • Plans for capital investment increased 1 point to a value of 68.
  • Expectations for sales held steady at a value of 104. 

In their third estimate of 2023 U.S. GDP growth, CEOs projected 1.5% growth for the year.

Business Roundtable urges policymakers to strengthen the economy by advancing pro-growth policies, including:

  • Maintaining and improving our tax system, especially as key provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act have expired or are expiring;
  • Strengthening the U.S. workforce development system to equip American workers with the skills and training they need for high demand jobs;
  • Addressing our insufficient border security and broken legal immigration systems;
  • Avoiding burdensome regulations and enacting additional reforms to the permitting system for energy infrastructure projects; and
  • Establishing new high-standard trade agreements with enforceable market access commitments, especially in key areas like the Indo-Pacific region.

“Action by Congress and the Administration to raise the debt ceiling was a welcome signal from Washington that bipartisan agreement at a consequential moment is achievable,” said Business Roundtable Chair Mary Barra, Chair and CEO of General Motors. “Business leaders stand ready to work with lawmakers to advance policies that strengthen the economy and American competitiveness.”

This quarter’s survey was in the field from May 17 through June 2, 2023. Overall, 143 CEOs completed the survey.

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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.

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