CEO Confidence Index

CEO Confidence Index Rebounds In June To Highest Level In A Year

With a debt ceiling agreement now finalized, an unwavering U.S. consumer and persistently strong employment data, CEOs are now betting against a recession—or a deep or lengthy one at least.

That’s according to Chief Executive’s June CEO Confidence Index, which finds America’s chiefs regaining confidence in the economy, as fears of a recession and a slowdown in consumer demand wane.

At 6.6 on our 10-point scale (where 10 is Excellent and 1 is Poor), our forward-looking indicator of CEO confidence in business conditions 12 months from now is up 11 percent since May—and at highest point for the last 12 months.

The last time the index was within that range was in March of 2022, when it topped 6.7 on hopes that the Covid recovery would put business back on track.

Of course, things didn’t go as planned then, and the Index has been flirting with multi-year lows ever since. Until now.

While there remain serious concerns over key economic indicators (inflation, tight labor), geopolitical uncertainty and the volatility that is likely to stem from the upcoming election year, CEOs say demand hasn’t slipped as much as they anticipated. Most report their companies are still growing—albeit at a slower pace than before—and few expect a long recession, if any at all.

And when asked to rate the current business environment, CEO confidence was also high, with a rating of 6.7 out of 10, up 12 percent since May—also a 12-month high.

“Our sales have grown by over 40 percent in the last two years, and our order book continues to grow. We do not see a short-term slowdown in our industry,” said Scott Glaze, CEO of wire manufacturer Fort Wayne Metals.

“More is being spent on services,” said John Zenger, CEO of leadership development firm Zenger Folkman, when asked to explain his optimism for the year ahead. “Consumer confidence remains high. Concerns about an impending recession have not materialized. Inflation is coming down. Trump will be disqualified from running for Presidency, and this will be less polarized.” He expects business conditions to rate at 9 out of 10 by this time next year.

“We have a record backlog of work and see no slowdown in opportunities to bid more work. The architects and engineers in the Southeast have robust backlogs, which means that more projects are in the pipeline,” said Mike Rogers, president of Rogers & Willard, a mid-sized construction company.

CEOs across various industries shared the optimism, highlighting a trend that goes beyond specific sectors. One group is an outlier, though: Financial services CEOs anticipate conditions to be much more difficult, rating the future environment a 4.4 out of 10, more than 30 percent lower than the average.

It’s also important to note that most CEOs don’t expect conditions to improve significantly in the short term, either. Only 28 percent of the 123 CEOs polled June 6-8 said they were hopeful business would improve by this time next year—down from 34 percent last month. Instead, 38 percent said they anticipate more of the same by June 2024, and 34 percent expect conditions to deteriorate some more over the next 12 months, just not as much as they had anticipated in recent months.

Interestingly, the proportion of those who expect the status quo has now surpassed both other groups for the first time since the pandemic.

THE YEAR AHEAD

When asked to forecast numbers for their respective companies, our data shows a growing proportion of CEOs who now expect profits to increase in the year ahead, 71 percent from 52 percent in May. And of those, 39 percent said they expect the increase to be double digits.

Similarly, more than three-quarters of CEOs polled said they expect revenues to also increase in the next 12 months. That proportion is up 27 percent since May. Here, 45 percent expect that growth to be more than 10 percent.

With these forecasts in mind, more CEOs are moving ahead with increasing capex, 50 percent vs. 35 percent in May, and 56 percent said they’d add to their workforce, compared to 35 percent the month prior.

About the CEO Confidence Index

The CEO Confidence Index is America’s largest monthly survey of chief executives. Each month, Chief Executive surveys CEOs across America, at organizations of all types and sizes, to compile our CEO Confidence Index data. The Index tracks confidence in current and future business environments, based on CEOs’ observations of various economic and business components. For additional information about the Index and prior months data, visit ChiefExecutive.net/category/CEO-Confidence-Index/


Melanie C. Nolen

Melanie C. Nolen is research director for Chief Executive Group. She oversees custom and proprietary research projects across the firm and acts as research editor for Chief Executive and Corporate Board Member, as well as sister sites StrategicCFO360.com, StrategicCIO360.com and StrategicCHRO360.com.

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Melanie C. Nolen

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