Business Roundtable: The economy’s back on track.

One of the nation’s top business groups offers a positive outlook for the national economy.

Business Roundtable today released its Q2 2021 CEO Economic Outlook Survey, a composite index of CEO plans for capital spending and employment and expectations for sales over the next six months. This quarter’s results signal that the U.S. economy is back on track and reveals record hiring plans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The overall CEO Economic Outlook Index increased in the second quarter to a value of 116, up nine points from Q1 2021, and only two points below the all-time high reached in Q1 2018 in the wake of pro-growth tax reform. All three subindices increased in the second quarter as well, with the sub-index measuring plans for hiring rising to historically high levels.

The Outlook graph shows the rapid uptick in expectations.

Several key indicator changes:

  • Plans for hiring increased 15 points to a value of 103.
  • Plans for capital investment increased six points to a value of 106.
  • Expectations for sales increased six points to a value of 140.

In their new estimate of 2021 U.S. GDP growth, CEOs project 5.0 percent growth for the year, a 1.3 percentage point increase from their estimate last quarter.

This is also notable:

In a special question first posed in Q2 2020 and in each quarter since, 75 percent of CEOs say conditions for their companies have already recovered or will recover to pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of 2021—a two percentage point improvement from the prior quarter. Conversely, 25 percent of CEOs do not expect business conditions to recover until 2022 or later, down from 27 percent in the previous quarter, underscoring the continued challenges facing some industries as the global struggle against COVID-19 persists. 

We’ll let the Business Roundtable chief executive have the final word.

“This CEO optimism is welcome news—and we need to harness it to ensure U.S. economic recovery continues,” said Business Roundtable President & CEO Joshua Bolten. “We can build on this momentum and sustain economic growth for decades to come by passing a bipartisan bill to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure—highways, water systems, energy and communications—and forgoing harmful tax increases on U.S. job creators that would hinder America’s economic recovery.”