A quarterly survey of U.S. business leaders, Grant Thornton LLP's Business Optimism Index, fell slightly to 58.8 in February (it was 60.4 in November 2009.)
Business leaders continue to feel uneasy about overall economic improvement, with only 43% expecting the economy to improve in the next six months, down from a 53% in November.
At the same time, 49% now believe that the economy will not come out of the recession until 2011 or later, a figure that has more than doubled since November, when only 22% believed the recession would end 2011 or later.
Commenting on their own businesses, leaders are feeling optimistic about growth over the next six months (74%), compared to 79% reported in November.
At the same time, plans for staffing remained relatively flat, with 31% planning to increase staffing, compared to 30% in November and 18% planning to decrease staffing, which is unchanged since November.
The survey was conducted between February 5-17, 2010. More than 440 senior executives from various industries responded to the survey.