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.

CEOs See U.S. Economy Underperforming in Next Six Months

Near-Term Expectations Decline for Capex, Hiring and Sales

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Washington – The Business Roundtable third quarter 2014 CEO Economic Outlook Index ‒ which provides a picture of the future direction of the U.S. economy based upon CEOs’ plans for sales, capital spending and hiring ‒ declined moderately from the second quarter. Results show plans for capital expenditures, hiring and sales all decreased relative to the previous quarter, with hiring plans declining the most.

“While some U.S. economic indicators are improving moderately, the results from our survey of CEOs seem to reflect an underperforming U.S. economy held back by policy uncertainty and growing conflicts around the world,” said Randall Stephenson, chairman of Business Roundtable and CEO of AT&T Inc.

CEOs expect 2014 gross domestic product growth of 2.4 percent, roughly the same as last quarter’s estimate of 2.3 percent. 

“The U.S. economy continues to perform below its potential,” Stephenson said. “While there are a number of economic issues facing our country, growth remains the top priority. We believe Congress and the Administration must focus on policies that drive economic growth, including tax reform, immigration reform, trade expansion and long-term fiscal stability.”

Survey Results

CEO plans for investment, hiring and sales over the next six months decreased, with employment plans declining the most. The survey’s key findings from this quarter and the second quarter of 2014 include: 

The latest survey also included a special question on tax policy:

  • Nearly 90 percent of CEOs said that tax reform – including a corporate rate of 25 percent and a competitive territorial tax system – would encourage additional investment or cause them to expand their U.S. operations.

Third Quarter 2014 Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index – a composite index of CEO expectations for the next six months of sales, capital spending and employment – decreased in the third quarter of 2014 to 86.4 from 95.4 in the second quarter of 2014. The long-term average of the Index is 80.2.

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 about the future direction of the U.S. economy by asking CEOs to report their plans for their company’s sales, capex and employment in 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 expectations – diffusion indices that range between -50 and 150 – where readings at 50 or above indicate an economic expansion, and readings below 50 indicate an 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 third quarter 2014 survey was completed between August 11 and August 29, 2014. Responses were received from 135 member CEOs, 65 percent of the total Business Roundtable membership. The percentages in some categories may not equal 100 due to rounding. Results of this and all previous surveys can be found at

Past Surveys