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 Releases First Quarter 2009 CEO Economic Outlook Survey

Outlook shows lower expectations for sales, capital expenditures and employment

Washington – The CEOs of America’s leading companies anticipate a decrease in expected sales, capital expenditures and employment figures for the next six months, according to survey results released today. The results underscore the significant pressures that the global economy continues to put on U.S. businesses.

“Improving consumer confidence and demand, both in the United States and abroad, is the key to jump-starting the economy,” said Harold McGraw III, Chairman of Business Roundtable and Chairman, President and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies. “Fortunately, both U.S. and foreign governments have recognized this need and taken significant steps to spark demand. And while recently implemented Administration policies will take time to have an impact, they already have begun to restore confidence in our markets, which is a critical first step.”

Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading corporations, representing a combined workforce of nearly 10 million employees and more than $5 trillion in annual revenues.

The survey’s key findings for the next six months include:

In terms of the overall U.S. economy, member CEOs estimate real GDP will decline by 1.9 percent in 2009, down from the CEOs’ zero percent estimate in the fourth quarter of 2008.

“Despite the considerable challenges facing our country, by working together, we can turn our economy around, put Americans back to work and preserve our position as the world’s economic leader,” added McGraw. “We stand ready to work with President Obama and Congress to ensure sustained, long-term economic growth for our workers, communities and companies.” 

CEO Economic Outlook Index for First Quarter 2009

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index contracted to negative 5.0 in the first quarter of 2009. While lower than the 16.5 index reading in the fourth quarter of 2008, the decline was less dramatic than in the previous quarter when it had fallen from 78.8 in the third quarter of 2008.

The Index is a composite diffusion index that combines member CEO projections for sales, capital spending and employment in the six months ahead. The index is centered on 50, and results can range from negative 50 to positive 150. An index reading of 50 or lower is consistent with overall economic contraction and a reading of 50 or higher is consistent with expansion.

Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly since the fourth quarter of 2002, provides a forward-looking view of the economic assumptions and outlooks of Business Roundtable member CEOs.

The survey was completed between March 16 and March 27. The percentages in some categories may not equal 100 due to rounding. Results of all surveys can be found at

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