Report: CEO Confidence Continues To Fall

Conference Board says business leaders' confidence in current economic conditions fell for the fourth consecutive time to the lowest level since 2000.

NEW YORK -- After a sharp decline in the final quarter of 2007, The Conference Board’s Measure of CEO Confidence, fell again in the first quarter to 38. A reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses.
“CEOs’ assessment of current conditions suggests we’re still mired in a period of extremely slow growth, and while their short-term outlook moderately improved, they remain quite cautious,” says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “As a result, hiring plans have been scaled back and only one in four -- compared to four in ten last year -- anticipates an increase in employment levels in their industry.”
Currently, only 3 percent of CEOs feel current economic conditions have improved, compare to 7 percent last quarter. Fourteen percent claim conditions are better, down from 15 percent in the fourth quarter.
For the next six months, 19 percent of business leaders expect economic conditions to improve, up from 16 percent in the fourth quarter. Nearly 23 percent expect an improvement in their own industries, up from 17 percent last quarter.
Twenty-six percent of CEOs anticipate an increase in employment levels in their industry, down from 42 percent a year ago. Health care costs remain the major obstacle to hiring new workers.