Economic / Future Trends

Economic pessimism declines, buoying small business confidence in Nov. 2019 WSJ/Vistage survey

Overall confidence of small business CEOs rose nearly 8 points since last month, largely driven by a decline in pessimism about the national economy according to the latest survey conducted by Vistage and the Wall Street Journal. The survey, conducted November 4-11, captured input from 654 CEOs and other leaders of small businesses across the United States. The WSJ/Vistage Small Business CEO Confidence Index was 97.8 in November, rising nearly 8 points from 89.9 last month.

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In addition to the shift in the outlook for the overall economy, gains were recorded in other factors that comprise the Index.  Short term outlook was strong with 68% of small business CEOs expecting increased revenues in the year ahead, a 6-point increase from last month.  To support these growth expectations, 60% of CEOs reported plans to increase their workforce.


The proportion of small business CEOs that expect the economy to worsen in the year ahead declined from 43% last month to 29% in November.  According to Dr. Richard Curtin, an economist from the University of Michigan who analyzed the data, “A decline in pessimism is usually driven by a reduction in uncertainty, whereas an increase in optimism is typically accompanied by greater certainty. The most likely source of declining uncertainty emanates from the notion that a trade deal is near, at least the first stage; about one-third of small firms reported a negative impact on their business from tariffs.”

Curtin further notes that “Since there is nothing certain about being near a trade deal with China, the November gains may be reversed.”

Download the November report for more perspectives from the analysis including:

• Pessimism about U.S. economy lessens
• Investment and hiring plans post incremental improvements
• Revenue and profit expectations rise slightly

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About the WSJ/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey
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Category: Economic / Future Trends

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About the Author: Anne Petrik

As Vice President of Research for Vistage, Anne Petrik is instrumental in the creation of original thought leadership designed to inform the decision-making of CEOs of small and midsize businesses. These perspectives — shared through repo

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