Business Confidence Gaining Momentum Among CEOs

Construction business owners were among those surveyed about their confidence in the economy for the remainder of 2024.

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According to a new report out today from California-based advisory group Vistage, business confidence among small- and mid-sized business owners is gaining momentum. Vistage surveyed a number of CEOs from a variety of industries, including construction. When it comes to construction, 16% of business owners said they expect the economy to improve in the year ahead, while 47% expect it to remain about the same, 36% expect it to worsen, and 1% don’t know/don’t have an opinion. 

The numbers below reflect the survey responses of all industries as a whole; to read the construction-related report, visit 

According to a press release:

Small and midsize business (SMB) CEO confidence sustained its upward trajectory in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023, marking the fifth increase in six quarters, per the latest CEO Confidence Index from CEO coaching and peer advisory organization Vistage.

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A growing proportion of CEOs are projecting increased revenues and profits. Although economic confidence remains historically low, CEOs have an increasing level of economic optimism. Meanwhile, talent persists as CEOs' foremost challenge; entering the new year hiring plans have increased compared to the previous quarter.

Vistage has measured SMB CEOs' sentiment on a variety of economic and business factors each quarter since 2003. ITR Economics' rate-of-change methodology has revealed the Vistage CEO Confidence Index is a leading indicator of the U.S. Industrial Production Index nine months in advance. In Q4 2023, the Vistage CEO Confidence Index rose to 82—trending upward from 76 in the third quarter (Q3) of 2023, 74.2 in the second quarter (Q2) of 2023, and 72.6 in the first quarter (Q1) of 2023.

"CEOs, eager for growth akin to passengers awaiting takeoff, saw a slight uptick in confidence in Q4 2023," said Joe Galvin, Vistage's chief research officer. "While unemployment stays low and 56% of leaders plan to expand their workforce in 2024, hiring and retaining talent remain top challenges. CEOs anticipate a talent surge when workforce velocity accelerates, emphasizing the need to fill every 'seat' in their business 'plane' to avoid stalling in a growth holding pattern."

ITR Economics Vice President of Economics Jackie Greene added, "Despite increased CEO optimism, a growing GDP and steady interest rates, ITR forecasts a short recession in 2024 with an economic rise following in 2025. CEOs will need to consider their hiring needs in that context, hone in on their competitive advantages, and focus on managing their finances."

Q4 CEO Confidence Index Highlights:

1. CEOs prioritizing investments in their workforce.

  • 56% of SMB CEOs plan to increase hiring in the year ahead (up 8 percentage points from last quarter, but slightly below last year's 60%).
  • Just 7% of CEOs report plans to decrease their workforce in the next 12 months.
  • As quit rates continue to slow, the hiring landscape has improved with 35% of CEOs reporting it was easier to hire than at the start of 2023 and only 11% reporting it is more difficult.
  • When asked about how their budgeted wage increases in 2024 compared to 2023:
    • 26% report pay raises will be higher in 2024.
    • 47% report pay raises will be the same as in 2023.
    • 23% report pay raises will be lower than in 2023.
    • 4% don't plan to raise pay in 2024.

2. Easing economic pessimism among CEOs.

  • 20% of SMB CEOs report that the economy has improved during the past year (up from just 9% in Q1 2023).
  • 43% believe the economy is worse than a year ago, an improvement from 46% last quarter and 58% in Q4 2022.
  • Slightly more than a third (34%) anticipate worsening economic conditions during the next 12 months, down from 42% last quarter, and 51% last year.
  • When asked about their view of the U.S. economy:
    • 34% anticipate a soft landing will occur.
    • 16% report a soft landing has already occurred.
    • 28% report approaching a recession.
    • 18% indicate a current recession.

3. Revenue and profit expectations are improving.

  • Nearly six-in-10 (59%) of SMB CEOs expect increased revenues in the year ahead (up from 55% in Q3 2023 and 50% in Q2 2023). Just 12% of CEOs expect decreases in revenues over the next 12 months, compared to last quarter's 15%.
    • These shifts result in the most optimistic revenue sentiment since Q1 2022.
  • 47% anticipate higher profits in the year ahead, a five-point increase from last quarter.
  • Two factors contribute to more positive profit expectations; slowing wage increases and continued price increases.
    • When asked about budgeted wage increases in 2024, just over a quarter (26%) indicate they will be higher than in 2023. A more significant proportion (54%) plan to increase prices in the year ahead.

See the full results for the Q4 2023 Vistage CEO Confidence Index at

Established in 2003, the Vistage CEO Confidence Index surveys small to midsize business CEOs, presidents, and business owners about the U.S. economy each quarter. The Q4 2023 Vistage CEO Confidence Index includes responses from 1,363 U.S. CEOs, surveyed between Dec. 4-8, 2023. Using ITR Economics' rate-of-change methodology, analysis has revealed that the Vistage CEO Confidence Index is an indicator of the U.S. Industrial Production Index, nine months in advance.