WASHINGTON -- America's corporate bosses are feeling a little more nervous about the economic outlook -- not a promising sign for a step-up in hiring.
A measure tracking chief executive officers' expectations for the economy dropped to 79.1 in the third quarter, from a 12-month high of 84.3 in the second quarter, according to the Business Roundtable. The index is based on CEOs' assessment of their company's sales, capital investments and employment prospects.
The survey results reflect an economy that "continues to grow, but slowly and not to its full potential," said James McNerney, Boeing Co. chief executive and Business Roundtable chairman. The group represents many of the nation's largest corporations; 134 member CEOs responded to the poll conducted between mid-August and early September.
"Not too hot, not too cold," McNerney said of the economy.
More worrisome perhaps are the lowered expectations for capital spending, which is essentially an investment in future growth and productivity. In the third quarter, just a little more than one-fourth of CEOs indicated that they would ramp up spending for such things as equipment and machinery, whereas 37% said so in the April-to-June period.