The Conference Board’s CEO confidence gauge reflected more optimism than pessimism among CEOs for the first time since Q1 2022. The gauge increased from 46 in Q4 of last year to 53 in Q1 of this year, with any reading above 50 signifying more positive than negative responses.
The survey also showed 32 percent of CEOs feel general economic conditions are better than they were six months prior, an increase from 18 percent in Q4 2023. And 36 percent expect conditions to improve over the next six months, compared with 19 percent the previous quarter.
“CEOs are feeling better about the economy, but remain cautious about risks ahead,” Roger Ferguson, Jr., trustee of The Conference Board, said.
Despite the more positive outlook, more CEOs plan to conduct layoffs. “The significant labor hoarding that occurred over much of 2023 showed some sign of letting up,” said The Conference Board Chief Economist Dana Peterson. In Q1, 23 percent of CEOs said they expect to lay off workers, compared with 13 percent in Q4 of 2023. Just 35 percent plan to increase staff this year, which is a drop from 38 percent in Q4 2023.