CEO Confidence Ebbs, Employees’ Edge Higher

Reports show business leaders bearish on future, employees not as much

CEOs are having a crisis of faith, according to a study released Friday by The Conference Board. “The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence,” which surveyed CEOs from mid-August to mid-September, found that their outlook on the economy and prospects for their businesses had grown distinctly gloomier—although in the second quarter of the year it had remained unchanged from the first quarter.

Now executives believe that current economic conditions have deteriorated from six months ago, with less than a third seeing any improvement. Within their own industries, only 38% find something to smile about, compared with 61% in the last quarter.

While capital spending plans have seen the touch of optimism—30% said they had increased capital outlays since the beginning of the year, compared to a mere 7% last year—they don’t seem to be banking on any improvement for a while: 22% anticipate bluer skies in the next six months, while 48% thought so last quarter.

If, on the other hand, you happen to be an employee, the weight of the world does not fall quite so heavily upon your shoulders. According to the SFN Group Employee Confidence Index, employees’ outlooks improved by 0.5 points to a rousing 48.7 in September. The index measures the confidence of workers in their personal employment situation and in the overall economic situation.

Even though 2% fewer (19%) think that the economy is getting stronger, those who are optimistic about the number of jobs available has not decreased from August, and 10% more than last month believe there are more jobs to be had. And 35% are anticipating job-hopping, up from 33% in August.

Older workers are feeling the brunt of the disillusionment, with those 55 and older convinced that the economy is weakening ((49%) and shedding jobs (66%).

And those who have jobs intend to keep them: people making $75,000 or more are confident about their employers, with those making $35,000 or less most likely to change jobs and least confident in their current employers.

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