CEOs 'cautiously optimistic' amid economic, labour concerns

Some employers willing to hoard staff amid labour shortages

CEOs 'cautiously optimistic' amid economic, labour concerns

Chief executive officers are "cautiously optimistic" this quarter and are planning to hoard employees amid persistent labour shortages concerns.

Nearly a third of employees surveyed in the latest Measure of CEO Confidence report revealed they are having problems attracting qualified workers in key areas.

Another 12% are reporting serious or widespread problems finding qualified workers, down from 15% in the first quarter.

"Fewer CEOs say they expect to have difficulty finding qualified workers. Nonetheless, persistent concerns about labour shortages are still prompting many CEOs to anticipate the need to retain workers," said Dana Peterson, Chief Economist of The Conference Board, in a statement.

"This labour hoarding comes at the cost of higher input costs, as most firms anticipate raising wages by more than three per cent over the next twelve months."

Despite these challenges, 33% of CEOs are also still planning to expand their workforce in the next 12 months, much higher than those planning to reduce staff (21%).

'Cautiously optimistic' CEOs

Overall, the confidence score of CEOs increased to 54 in the second quarter of 2024, up from the 53 in the previous quarter, according to the report.

"CEOs' views about the economy have shifted from six months ago," said Roger Ferguson, Jr., Vice Chairman of The Business Council and Trustee of The Conference Board, in a statement. "Nonetheless, CEOs remain only cautiously optimistic."

It comes amid more positive outlook on general economic conditions, where only 16% said economic conditions were worse, down from last quarter's 22%.

Some 30% of CEOs also believe their industry's conditions were better compared to six months ago, with 26% expecting conditions to worsen.

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