The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence in collaboration with the Business Council improved further in the first quarter of 2021, following a sharp increase in the previous survey, conducted in September 2020. The measure now stands at 73, up from 64. This marks the highest level of chief executive officer confidence since the first quarter of 2004, when the measure stood at 74. A reading above 50 reflects more positive than negative responses.
The outlook for employees’ wages has improved, while the potential for layoffs has receded. In the first quarter, 36% of CEOs foresaw increasing their employees’ wages by more than 3% over the next 12 months, compared with 22% in the previous survey. Moreover, just 12% of CEOs said they anticipated reducing their workforce over the next 12 months, down from 34%. Talent shortages appear to be slowly reemerging. In the first quarter, business leaders reporting some trouble attracting qualified workers—in key or several areas—increased to 49% from 36%.
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