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CEOs say coronavirus relief, infrastructure are top priorities under Biden

Jessica Smith
·Chief Political Correspondent
·3 min read
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U.S. CEOs say a COVID-19 relief package and investment in infrastructure are their top priorities for the incoming Biden administration, according to a new findings from the Business Roundtable.

In the group’s quarterly economic outlook survey, 83% of executives rated coronavirus relief and 77% rated infrastructure as “most” or “very” important.

“As we urge lawmakers to take action to defeat COVID-19 and help U.S. workers and small businesses recover in the short term, we look forward to working with the incoming Administration and Congress on solutions to rebuild the economy and help Americans prosper in the long term,” said Doug McMillon, Chairman & CEO of Walmart and Chairman of Business Roundtable. “Making bold investments in American infrastructure – including highways, waterways and broadband – is one of many areas where we urgeDemocrats and Republicans to work together to create a stronger and more equitable economic foundation for American families.”

Optimism among the nation’s CEOs rose in the fourth quarter, coming back from historic lows earlier in the year. Business Roundtable’s economic outlook index rose to 86.2 — a 22.2 point increase from the third quarter. The index is now above the historical average of 81.5.

For the third quarter in a row, the group asked CEOs when business conditions for their company will recover to pre-pandemic levels. Twenty-six percent of executives said business conditions never declined, have recovered, or will recover by the end of the year. Forty-one percent expect a recovery next year, while 33% said they expect a recovery in 2022 or later.

CEO optimism continues to improve from pandemic lows
CEO optimism continues to improve from pandemic lows

The Business Roundtable index showed the executives’ plans for hiring, capital investment and sales all increased in the third quarter. Thirty-four percent of CEOs said they planned to increase hiring over the next six months, compared to 31% in the second quarter. Of the 150 CEOs surveyed in Q4, 47% said they expect to increase capital investment over the next six months — up from 32% in the previous quarter. Seventy-four percent of executives said they expect sales to increase over the same time period, up from 57% in the second quarter.

CEO optimism continues to improve from pandemic lows, but executives say the economy still needs more help from Congress.
CEO optimism continues to improve from pandemic lows, but executives say the economy still needs more help from Congress.

Despite their improving outlook, CEOs say Congress still needs to do more to help the economy.

“America’s leading employers remain concerned about the recent rise in coronavirus cases and its impacts on American public health and the pace of economic recovery,” said Joshua Bolten, President & CEO of Business Roundtable. “We urge lawmakers to work in a bipartisan fashion to enact further economic support, especially for small business, before the end of the year. Further delay in delivering relief will hurt millions of Americans and lead to more damage to our economy.

In their first estimate of 2020 U.S. GDP growth, CEOs projected 1.9% growth for the year.

Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.

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