Business Roundtable CEOs Rate COVID-19 Relief, Infrastructure Investment as Top Priorities for Incoming Administration, Congress
CEO Economic Outlook Index Continues to Improve from Pandemic Lows as America’s Leading Employers Urge Further Bipartisan Action in Response to COVID-19 Before Year’s End
Washington – Business Roundtable CEOs rate COVID-19 relief and infrastructure investment as top priorities for the incoming Biden Administration and the 117th Congress to help American families amid the global coronavirus pandemic, as their plans and economic outlook improve from historic lows set earlier this year.
As part of Business Roundtable’s Q4 2020 CEO Economic Outlook Survey, CEOs were asked to rate the importance of various measures, in addition to a strong public health response to COVID-19, that would create a more favorable environment for economic growth. Among several choices, a strong majority of CEOs rated a federal COVID-19 economic relief package (83 percent) and investments in infrastructure (77 percent) – such as roads, bridges and broadband – as “most” or “very” important.
In this quarter’s survey – a composite index of CEO plans for capital spending and hiring and expectations for sales over the next six months – the overall Index was 86.2, an increase of 22.2 points compared to Q3 2020. This indicates a gradual economic recovery from the historic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic during the second quarter. The Index now stands above its historical average of 81.5.
“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,” said Joshua Bolten, President & CEO of Business Roundtable. “We urge lawmakers to work in a bipartisan fashion to enact further economic support, especially for small businesses, before the end of the year. Further delay in delivering relief will hurt millions of Americans and lead to more damage to our economy.”
“As we urge lawmakers to take action to defeat COVID-19 and help U.S. workers and small businesses recover in the short term, we look forward to working with the incoming Administration and Congress on solutions to rebuild the economy and help Americans prosper in the long term,” said Doug McMillon, President & CEO of Walmart and Chairman of Business Roundtable. “Making bold investments in American infrastructure – including highways, waterways and broadband – is one of many areas where we urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to create a stronger and more equitable economic foundation for American families.”
Other components of the Index were as follows:
- CEO plans for hiring increased by 11.5 points to 58.1, 0.2 points below the sub-index’s historical average of 58.3.
- CEO plans for capital investment increased by 25.2 points to 84.0, 8.7 points above the sub-index’s historical average of 75.3.
- CEO expectations for sales increased by 29.9 points to 116.4, 5.5 points above the sub-index’s historical average of 110.9.
- In their first estimate of 2021 U.S. GDP growth, CEOs projected 1.9 percent growth for the year.
In a special question, repeated from the last two quarters, asking when business conditions for their company will recover to pre-COVID levels, 26 percent of CEOs said that business conditions never declined, have recovered, or will likely recover by the end of the year. Forty-one percent said they expect business conditions to recover in 2021, and 33 percent said they expect business conditions to recover in 2022 or later. The results of this special question from this quarter and the last two quarters include:
Since 2003, CEOs have been asked every fourth quarter to identify the greatest cost pressure facing his or her company. In Q4 2020, 40 percent of Business Roundtable CEOs identified labor as the top cost pressure, followed by 16 percent identifying regulations and 14 percent identifying materials.
The survey’s key findings from this quarter and the third quarter of 2020 include: