Optimism about Growth and Employment Evidenced in Recent Reports, Surveys
CEOs and NFIB surveys show growing optimism: higher sales anticipated, plans for hiring and capital expenditures.
New unemployment claims continued to decrease reaching an anticipated 420,000 this week. The four-week moving average has improved for the sixth week in a row and continuing unemployment claims also have come down, a good sign of payroll growth.
The Philadelphia Fed Survey out yesterday reports increased activity in manufacturing in the Mid-Atlantic region this month. The index rose to 24.3 indicating improvement of general business conditions in the sample. New and backlog orders are increasing month over month, although shipments grew more slowly than last month. Manufacturers grew their workforces at a lower rate than last month but extended the workforce hours.
According to the Business Roundtable Fourth Quarter 2010 CEO Economic Outlook Survey, the CEOs of America’s leading companies plan increases in hiring, sales and capital expenditures over the next six months. Anticipated sales increases signal returning demand, which leads to the expectation of increased capital expenditure and employment over the next six months. The participating CEOs however expect growth to be at a mild 2.5% in 2011. The greatest cost pressures reported were materials costs, followed by health care and labor costs.
The BR CEO Economic Outlook Survey Index rose above 100 to hit 101 in the fourth quarter of 2010, up from 86 in the third quarter of 2010. The last time the index surpassed 100 was in Q2 2006.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) small business optimism index hit 93.2 in November up from 91.7 in October – this is the highest level since December 2007, the fourth month in a row that optimism has increased. As a comparison, the index was mostly over 100 every month from 2002 to mid-2006. The low point (81) was March 2009, and has been stagnating between the recessionary territory of 88 and 90 since May 2009. Taxes, Poor Sales, and Government Regulations are cited most often as the single most important problem by survey respondents.