The CEOs of some of the country’s largest companies say the outlook for their businesses has improved somewhat compared to last quarter, but that the government must provide “further major support” for what remains a fragile economic recovery, according to a new survey.
The quarterly survey by the Business Roundtable, a non-profit association of chief executives of major companies, found that 24% of CEOs said that business conditions either didn’t suffer, have recovered or will likely recover by the end of the year. Another 40% said they expect conditions to bounce back next year, while 36% said it will take until 2022 or later for a full recovery.
The CEO group surveyed 149 members from August 31 to September 16. It said its index measuring CEOs' business outlooks climbed nearly 30 points to 64, the first increase in nine quarters, but remains well below the historical average of 81.7 dating back to 2002. The business leader projected that the economy would shrink by 2.4% for the year, a 1.4 percentage point increase from last quarter’s estimate.
“The outlook of Business Roundtable CEOs has improved, due in part to actions taken by policymakers earlier this year to help Americans,” Joshua Bolten, Business Roundtable’s president and CEO, said in a statement accompanying the survey results. “But further major support from the federal government is necessary to prevent economic recovery from being derailed. Failure to act, along with the lack of comprehensive and coordinated efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, would impose long term damage on the U.S. economy, hurting most the workers and small businesses least able to absorb the blow.”
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who also serves as the Business Roundtable’s chairman, also called on lawmakers to restart talks on another coronavirus relief bill. “Business Roundtable urges the administration and Congress to come back to the negotiating table and pass more legislation to further ease the economic challenges American workers, small businesses and suppliers are experiencing,” he said.