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From the Conference Board’s latest survey of CEOs….The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™, which had improved in the fourth quarter, increased further in the first quarter of 2012. The Measure now reads 63, up from 49 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 centre: “CEOs’ confidence has rebounded from rather dismal readings in the latter half of 2011. Looking ahead, chief executives are optimistic about growth prospects, with about the same percentage as last year expecting to hire new workers.”
CEOs’ appraisal of current economic conditions has grown very positive. Now, 67 per cent say conditions have improved compared to six months ago, up from just 17 per cent last quarter. A similar improvement is reflected in the assessment of their own industries. 40-two per cent of business leaders claim conditions have improved, compared with only 16 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011.
CEOs’ optimism about the short-term outlook also improved significantly. Currently, about 59 per cent of business leaders foresee an improvement in economic conditions over the next six months, up from 32 per cent in the fourth quarter. Expectations for their own industries are also more upbeat, with 44 per cent of CEOs expecting conditions to improve in the months ahead, up from approximately 25 per cent 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 per cent from 16 per cent 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.