Monday, April 11, 2011

CEO Confidence Increases Again

07 Apr. 2011

The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™, which had bounced back in the final quarter of 2010, improved further in the first quarter of 2011. The Measure now reads 67, up from 62 last quarter (a reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses).

Says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: “CEOs’ confidence has improved, yet again, and expectations are that the economy will continue to expand in the coming months. As for the employment outlook, CEOs are more bullish than last year, with half now saying they intend to ramp up hiring.”

CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions was much more upbeat, with 85 percent saying conditions are better compared to six months ago, up from 56 percent last quarter. In assessing their own industries, business leaders were also more positive. Now, nearly 61 percent say conditions have improved, compared with 55 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.

CEOs’ optimism about the short-term outlook continues to grow. Currently, 66 percent expect an improvement in economic conditions over the next six months, up from 56 percent last quarter. Expectations for their own industries, however, are slightly less optimistic, with 49 percent of CEOs expecting conditions to improve in the months ahead, down from 51 percent last quarter.

Hiring Plans to Pick Up in 2011

Half of all CEOs anticipate an increase in employment levels in their industry, up significantly from 30 percent a year ago. The proportion of CEOs who anticipate a decrease in hiring declined to 16 percent from 22 percent a year ago.

On a separate question, CEOs say regulation and litigation are major obstacles to hiring new workers, followed by health care costs and wage and salary costs. Other fringe benefits are of lesser concern when hiring new workers.