Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Economic Outlook Ticks Up After First Quarter


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 Virginia CEO Economic Outlook Survey. 

The first quarter 2019 CEO Economic Outlook survey finds that Virginia CEOs’ expectations for sales, capital spending, and employment over the next six months rose compared to their expectations last quarter. Overall, expectations at the end of the first quarter were the second-highest recorded over the past year, and significantly higher than their expectations in the first quarter of 2018.  

Says Scot McRoberts, executive director of the Virginia Council of CEOs, “The small business CEOs I work with are running at capacity. For most, if they could hire more of the right employees, they would be producing even more.”

“Despite the growing concerns about the potential for a slowdown, Virginia CEOs are still positive on the economy. Most CEOs cite strong demand, order backlogs and planned growth for their expectations,” said Randy Raggio, Associate Dean at the Robins School of Business. Raggio administers the survey and collects the responses each quarter.

Economic Index Historical Data

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




The 2019 first quarter survey found that executives’ expectations for sales and hiring and capital spending increased slightly. To summarize, CEOs predictions over the next six months include:

  • Nearly 78 percent expect an increase in sales (up more than six percentage points from the fourth quarter results)
  • Thirty six percent of respondents expect capital spending to increase (up three percentage points from last quarter)
  • More than 65 percent expect employment to increase (up nearly five percentage points from last quarter)
  • 72 CEOs responded to the survey, which was administered March 19-27
  • Multiple industries are represented in the sample, including construction, manufacturing, finance, insurance, and retail 
  • The average company revenue (most recent 12-month period): $10.2 million
  • The average employment count: 60



The Robins School and VACEOs jointly conduct the quarterly survey, which regularly asks about expectations for sales, capital spending and employment, plus other relevant issues, helping Virginia companies anticipate business conditions and plan for growth. The Robins School adapted the survey from the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of American companies that conducts a similar survey nationally. Randy Raggio, associate dean at the Robins School, administers the survey and collects the responses each quarter. The survey has been administered quarterly since 2010.

Read Richmond Times-Dispatch coverage >


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 smcroberts@vaceos.org

Posted by Staff at 9:32 am

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