Friday, October 20, 2017

2017 Third Quarter Economic Survey Results

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 third quarter 2017 CEO Economic Outlook survey finds that optimism among Virginia CEOs remains high, but falls from levels seen in the previous three quarters, which were the highest 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, was the sixth-highest ever. The three previous quarters (Q1 2017, Q4 2016, and Q2 2017), saw the index reach the highest marks in the survey’s history. The survey has been administered quarterly since 2010.

“Small business CEOs are thriving in this environment. It is fascinating to watch. Some are growing rapidly in order to capture market share or acquire competitors, while others are throttling growth to focus on higher profits,” said Scot McRoberts, executive director of the Virginia Council of CEOs. “The economy could move faster, but we can live with this for a while!”

“Despite a drop in the index, CEOs remain optimistic as more expect sales and hiring to increase over the next six months,” said Randy Raggio, Associate Dean at the Robins School of Business. Raggio administers the survey and collects the responses each quarter. He adds, “Although expectations for increased capital spending fell this quarter, they were high for the previous three, so companies seem to be catching up with higher sales and staffing.”


The 2017 third quarter survey found that executives’ expectations for sales and hiring increased slightly, while expected capital spending fell. To summarize, CEOs predictions over the next six months include:

  • 74.4 percent expect an increase in sales (up from 73.4 percent last quarter)
  • 52.6 percent of respondents expect capital spending to stay the same (compared to 53.1 percent last quarter)
  • 59 percent expect employment to increase (compared to 56.3 percent last quarter)
  • 78 CEOs responded to the survey, which was administered September 27 – October 3
  • Multiple industries are represented in the sample, including construction, manufacturing, finance and insurance and retail
  • The average company revenue (most recent 12-month period): $9 million
  • The average employment count: 55



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, executive director, Virginia Council of CEOs.

Posted by Staff at 4:08 pm
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