For the first time since the fall of 2002, a larger percentage of CEOs (78%) are forecasting their firms will add jobs than are the number of CEOs that say their companies will cut jobs, according to data compiled by the Business Roundtable. Further, the number of chiefs predicting hiring is 23% points above the 55% figure reported in April 2003.
Examining the macro impact, a third (33%) of CEOs are projecting job increases in the next six months. The latest reading represents an increase over the 25% in December who expected higher employment.
Following the trend set by hiring forecasts, the March 2004 CEO Economic Outlook Survey shows optimism in a number of economic forecasts. On average, CEOs expect real GDP growth to be 3.7% in 2004, a slight improvement over the 3.6% projection made in December. Comparatively, the average annual GDP growth over the past year was 3.1%.
Overall, the CEOs’ economic projections led to another increase in the Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Index, which has now risen to 94%, up from 89% in the last December 2003 edition of the survey.
“America’s CEOs believe that the U.S. economy is on course for continued steady improvement over the next six months,” Hank McKinnell, Chairman of the Business Roundtable and Chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc said in a news release. “Our new CEO Economic Outlook Survey shows that companies expect to add jobs, further gains in capital spending, and strong levels of projected sales.”
The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers with a combined workforce of more than 10 million employees in the United States and $3.7 trillion in annual revenues. The March survey was completed by 122 of the Roundtable’s 150 member companies. A comparison of all surveys can be found at www.businessroundtable.org .