Thursday, January 18, 2018

2017 Fourth Quarter Economic Survey Results


Read Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage >

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 fourth quarter 2017 CEO Economic Outlook survey finds that optimism among Virginia CEOs grew from the third quarter, notching increases in all categories.

The survey’s index, which measures executives’ views on projected hiring, capital spending and sales over the next six months, was the third-highest ever. 2017 was an optimistic year for CEOs, as the survey achieved three of its four highest marks ever, including an all-time high in Q1. The survey has been administered quarterly since 2010.

Economic Index Historical Data

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


“Small business CEOs are enjoying the best business environment since the Great Recession. Those that have become adept at dealing with rapid change are thriving,” says Scot McRoberts, executive director of the Virginia Council of CEOs.

“After several years of dampened expectations, CEOs have become much more optimistic over the past year, due to both internal and exogenous factors,” said Randy Raggio, associate dean at the Robins School of Business. Raggio administers the survey and collects the responses each quarter. He adds, “One CEO’s comments reflect the general sentiment: ‘We have been investing in our business development and are about to see a return on the investment. Additionally for us the new tax cuts will allow us to hire more staff.’”

Of note: Nearly one third (20) of the 61 respondents mentioned the overall economy and tax cuts as reasons for their optimism.


The 2017 fourth quarter survey found that executives’ expectations for sales, capital spending, and employment rose from last quarter. To summarize, CEOs predictions over the next six months include:

  • More than 77 percent of CEO respondents expect sales to increase over the next six months (up nearly three percentage points from the third quarter results)
  • Only about five percent expect sales to fall
  • Forty-four percent of CEOs expect capital spending to increase (up from over 38 percent last quarter)
  • About 46 percent expect capital spending to remain flat
  • More than 62 percent expect employment to increase over the next six months (up from 59 percent last quarter)
  • Nearly 38 percent expect employment to remain flat
  • No CEOs expect employment to decrease over the next six months
  • Nearly one third (20) of the 61 respondents mentioned the overall economy and tax cuts as reasons for their optimism
  • Sixty-one CEOs responded to the survey, which was administered December 17, 2017 – January 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: 43



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 8:33 am
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