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 Forecast Uptick in Sales, Investment & Hiring Over Next Six Months

CEO Outlook Index Shows Modest Increase in Expectations for Economic Growth; CEOs Cite Regulation as Top Cost Pressure

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Washington – Results of Business Roundtable’s (BRT) fourth quarter 2013 CEO Economic Outlook Survey show a modest uptick in CEO expectations for the economy over the next six months, with expectations for sales, capital expenditures and hiring increasing from the third quarter of 2013. The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Index increased to 84.5 from 79.1 in the previous quarter, and expectations for 2014 GDP growth remained in line with the previous two quarters at 2.2 percent.

“CEO expectations for economic expansion in the next six months increased slightly from last quarter, with expectations for sales, capital investment and hiring all tracking somewhat higher,” said Jim McNerney, Chairman of Business Roundtable, and Chairman, President and CEO of The Boeing Company. “In aggregate, our expectations are consistent with an economy that will continue along the path of steady, modest recovery into the first half of 2014. These soundings are also consistent with an overall economy that, despite progress, is not yet performing at its full potential.”

In a question posed annually in the fourth quarter, 39 percent of CEOs reported that regulatory costs were the top cost pressure facing their business over the next six months, followed by labor and health care costs. Regulatory costs were also the CEOs’ top concern in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Survey Results

The survey’s key findings from this quarter and the third quarter of 2013 include:

Fourth Quarter 2013 BRT CEO Economic Outlook Survey Indices

The Business Roundtable CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index – a composite index of CEO expectations for the next six months of sales, capital spending and employment – increased in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 84.5 from 79.1 in the third quarter. The Index stands at about its long-term average level of 79.4.

About the BRT CEO Economic Outlook Survey

Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly since the third quarter of 2002, provides a forward-looking view of the economy by BRT member CEOs. The survey is designed to capture CEO sentiment regarding the current state and future direction of the U.S. economy by asking CEOs to provide their expectations about their company’s sales, capex and employment in the following 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 above 50 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.

An independent study in 2010 statistically showed that the change in the Index provides a leading signal of the change in U.S. GDP. The fourth quarter 2013 survey was completed between November 4 and November 21, 2013. Responses were received from 120 member CEOs, 57 percent of the total Business Roundtable membership. The percentages in some categories may not equal 100 due to rounding. 

Past Surveys