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One in Four U.S. CEOs See Full Recovery Delayed Until After 2021

Maeve Sheehey

(Bloomberg) -- Confidence among U.S. chief executives plummeted to the lowest level since the financial crisis and more than a quarter don’t see conditions at their companies recovering until after 2021 as the coronavirus reverberates through the economy.

The Business Roundtable’s second-quarter economic outlook index, which measures hiring and capital spending plans as well as sales expectations, slumped by 38.4 points to 34.3 from the previous quarter, the Washington-based lobbying group said Monday. Readings below 50 are consistent with a recession, which the National Bureau of Economic Research said the economy entered in February.

Some 27% see business conditions fully recovering at their firms after next year, underscoring the toll of the pandemic and state lockdowns of businesses that have started to lift. The CEOs project the economy will shrink 3.8% this year after hiring and capital investment plans declined along with sales expectations.

In the survey of 136 CEOs conducted June 1-22, all executives said they have already adopted, or plan to adopt, physical distancing measures at their facilities, while 95% have expanded flexible work arrangements. In light of recent increases in Covid-19 cases in several states, the group urged officials to take more steps to mitigate the spread of the disease.

“We urge lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels to coordinate as much as possible to control further spread of this virus,” Walmart Inc. CEO Doug McMillon, the Business Roundtable’s chairman, said in a statement.

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