Oct 21, 2020 - Economy

CEO confidence skyrockets on expectations of layoffs and wage cuts

Chart on CEO confidence
The Conference Board; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. consumers remain uncertain about the economic environment but CEOs are feeling incredibly confident, the latest survey from the Conference Board shows.

Why it matters: Confidence among chief executives jumped 19 points from its last reading in July, rising above the 50-point threshold that reflects more positive than negative responses for the first time since 2018.

The big picture: Judging by their stated expectations, CEO confidence is not a good sign for workers. Over the next 12 months, CEOs said they expect to cut jobs, hold down employee pay and reduce capital spending.

  • 37% of CEOs expected to reduce their capital budgets in the year ahead, while 38% expected no change and 25% anticipated increasing spending.
  • 34% expected a net reduction in their workforce, another 34% expected no change and just 9% expected an expansion of the workforce above 3%.
  • 21% foresaw no increase in their employees’ wages and 5% said they may reduce wages.
  • 62% of CEOs expected little to no problems finding qualified workers, while 11% expected widespread talent shortages or hiring problems.

Worth noting: Consumers globally grew slightly less confident this week, continuing a trend evidenced over the past six weeks across the income spectrum, per data provider Morning Consult’s Index of Consumer Expectations.

  • The poll surveys 11,000 adults per day in 15 countries.
Consumer confidence by income level
Data: Morning Consult; Chart: Axios Visuals
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