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Business Roundtable survey: CEOs plan more hiring and spending

December 14, 2010 |  8:53 am

Chief executives at some of America's largest companies plan to increase hiring and spending over the next six months as they expect sales to increase, according to the CEO Economic Outlook survey released Tuesday by the Business Roundtable.

The fourth-quarter results for its 2010 CEO survey showed business leaders more optimistic about the state of the economy than they were in the last snapshot, taken during the summer. A full 80% of the business heads expect their company's sales to increase over the next six months, compared with 66% in the third-quarter survey results.

That translates into more spending and hiring: 59% of the chief executives expect their companies to increase U.S. capital spending over the next six months, up from 49% in the third quarter, and 45% expect to increase their domestic hiring, up from 31%. Just 18% expected to cut employees during that same period, compared with 23% in the third quarter.

The survey comes as President Obama is set to gather a group of CEOs at the White House on Wednesday to push them to increase their hiring.

Overall, the CEOs expect the nation's gross domestic product -- the total value of all goods and services produced -- to grow by 2.5% in 2011.

“Demand is returning, as evidenced by anticipated sales increases, and that is good news. When demand increases, capital expenditures and employment follow -– which is what we expect to see in the next six months,” said Ivan G. Seidenberg, chief executive of Verizon Communications and chairman of the Business Roundtable. “However, our CEOs expect GDP to grow at rate of only 2.5% in 2011, so there is still more work that needs to be done to get the economy back on the path toward strong, sustainable growth.”

The group is made up of the heads of dozens of top U.S. companies, who combined have about $6 trillion in revenues and 12 million employees. Members cut across all sectors and include AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Caterpillar, General Electric and Microsoft.

-- Jim Puzzanghera