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.

BRT Releases Third Quarter 2009 CEO Economic Outlook Survey

CEOs see increased sales; minor gains in capital spending and hiring

Washington – The CEOs of America’s leading companies anticipate increased sales in the next six months, but do not see enough demand to translate into higher capital expenditures or hiring, according to the results of Business Roundtable’s third quarter 2009 CEO Economic Outlook Survey.

“Businesses depend on increased demand to drive capital investment and hiring,” said Ivan G. Seidenberg, Chairman of Business Roundtable and Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications. “Right now, we’re beginning to see sales trending up, but not to the level that translates into meaningful gains in capital spending or jobs.”

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

The survey’s key findings from this quarter and last quarter include:

In terms of the overall U.S. economy, member CEOs estimate real GDP will decline by 0.9 percent in 2009, up from the CEOs’ second quarter 2009 estimate of a 2.1 percent decline.

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey’s Index expanded to 44.9 in the third quarter of 2009, up from 18.5 in the second quarter and negative 5.0 in the first quarter.

“This quarter’s numbers show an economy in transition,” added Seidenberg. “As the Federal Reserve cautioned this month, unemployment is likely to remain stubbornly high as our nation emerges from recession.”

CEO Economic Outlook Index for Third Quarter 2009

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 outlook of Business Roundtable member CEOs.

The survey was completed between September 2 and September 18. The percentages in some categories may not equal 100 due to rounding. Results of all surveys can be found at

Past Surveys