- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Company executives are more optimistic about the business climate over the next six months than they were at the beginning of the year, and plan to increase sales and hiring during that time, a new survey shows.

The Business Roundtable’s second quarter CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index, a report that measures the confidence of member executives, found that CEOs expect the U.S. economy to grow at an annual rate of 2.2 percent over the rest of the year.

“Survey results show CEOs expect a small increase in overall economic growth this year led by modest improvement in sales and hiring,” said Business Roundtable chairman Jim McNerney.

The index, which measures sales, capital spending and employment, shot up to its highest level level in a year at 84.3. The higher the number, the higher executives’ expectations. That comes in above last quarter’s reading of 81, and the long-term average of 79.3.

Sales are expected to increase at 78 percent of the Business Roundtable’s member companies, which is up 6 percent from the previous quarter.

Accordingly, CEOs plan to increase hiring at 32 percent of member companies, which is up 3 percent from last quarter.

Overall, capital spending expectations also increased from the previous quarter. Though one percent fewer companies expect to increase spending, the number of companies that plan to decrease spending declined by four percent, balancing out the findings.

“Overall, CEOs see the U.S. economy still on a slow road to recovery,” said Mr. McNerney, who also serves as president, CEO and chairman of Boeing.

This is the study’s 11th year. The study surveyed 141 member CEOs between May 13 and May 31.