CEOs’ appraisal of current economic conditions has grown very positive. Now, 67 percent say conditions have improved compared to six months ago, up from just 17 percent last quarter. A similar improvement is reflected in the assessment of their own industries. Forty-two percent of business leaders claim conditions have improved, compared with only 16 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.
CEOs’ optimism about the short-term outlook also improved significantly. Currently, about 59 percent of business leaders foresee an improvement in economic conditions over the next six months, up from 32 percent in the fourth quarter. Expectations for their own industries are also more upbeat, with 44 percent of CEOs expecting conditions to improve in the months ahead, up from approximately 25 percent last quarter.
Hiring Plans to Pick Up in 2012
Half of all CEOs anticipate an increase in employment levels in their industry, about the same as a year ago. The proportion of CEOs who anticipate a decrease in hiring declined slightly to 15 percent from 16 percent a year ago.
On a separate question, chief executives say that regulation and litigation are major obstacles to hiring new workers, followed by health care costs. Wage and salary costs, as well as other fringe benefits, are of lesser concern when hiring new workers.