Thursday, April 13, 2017

CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index Reaches New High During 2017 Q1

Each quarter the Virginia Council of CEOs (VACEOs) and University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business partner to take the pulse of top executives in the region through a comprehensive “Economic Outlook Survey.”

The first quarter 2017 CEO Economic Outlook survey finds the highest level of optimism among central Virginia CEOs in the survey’s seven-year history.

Economic Index Historical Data

YearQuarter 1Quarter 2Quarter 3Quarter 4
2020-18.73 (historic low)
2017108.97 (historic high)103.6399.17106.3


The survey’s index, which measures executives’ views on projected hiring, capital spending and sales over the next six months, surpassed the previous high recorded last quarter (Q4 2016). The survey has been administered quarterly since 2010.

“The small business CEOs I work with are as busy as they have been since the recession, so I am not surprised that these results remain very optimistic,” said Scot McRoberts, executive director of the Virginia Council of CEOs. “I recently spoke to the CEO of a small manufacturer who sells to diverse industries. He said demand is high from all customers, and they cannot keep up with the orders.”

“Over the past seven quarters the index has reached four all-time highs,” said Randy Raggio, Associate Dean at the Robins School of Business. Raggio administers the survey and collects the responses each quarter. He adds, “It appears that finally we are seeing sustained growth and optimism. CEOs cite a more ‘pro-business’ environment with expectations for tax and regulatory reform as driving their responses.”


The 2017 first quarter survey found that executives’ expectations for sales were nearly identical to last quarter’s while their expectations for hiring and capital spending were higher than in the fourth quarter survey.

To summarize, CEOs predictions over the next six months include:

  • More than 81 percent expect an increase in sales (down less than a single percentage point from last quarter)
  • 37 percent of respondents expect sales to increase by more than 10 percent
  • 46 percent of respondents expect capital spending to increase (up from 44 percent last quarter)
  • Nearly 50 percent expect capital spending to stay flat
  • More than 64 percent expect employment to increase, up from the 62 percent last quarter
  • 65 CEOs responded to the survey, which was administered March 21-31
  • Multiple industries are represented in the sample
  • The average company revenue (most recent 12-month period): $10.2 million
  • The average employment: 39


The survey, adapted from a similar Business Roundtable national survey, provides a snap shot of the overall economic outlook index for various companies within the region. It also helps central Virginia companies anticipate business decisions and plan for growth. Randy Raggio, Associate Dean at the Robins School of Business, administers the survey and collects the responses each quarter.

Read Richmond Times Dispatch coverage >

Read Robins School of Business press release >



The Council continues to expand the survey beyond its members, offering any area business owners whose companies gross at least $1 million in annual revenue the opportunity to participate. If enough businesses participate, the council will provide survey results by industry. Participation is free, and all participants will receive copies of the survey data.

Business owners and CEOs who would like to participate in the next survey should contact Scot McRoberts at

Posted by Staff at 7:28 am
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