Economic Optimism Rises Among CEOs

The chief executives of 360 U.S. privately held, fast-growth product and service companies are significantly more optimistic about the domestic and international economies than they were three months ago, indicates a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey released this week.

Some 79% of the CEOs characterize themselves as optimistic about the prospects for the U.S. economy during the next 12 months, up nearly 10 percentage points from 70% in the final quarter of 2004. A slightly smaller percentage, 74%, are optimistic about prospects for the global economy, the first time in nearly five years the optimists have topped 70%, says PwC.

The CEOs, however, are not carefree. More than half the CEOs, 54%, consider weakening market demand to be the leading potential barrier to growth during the next 12 months. And with 80% of the companies planning a net increase in their workforces in 2005, concern about finding enough skilled and trained workers is the CEOs' second-greatest concern.

The companies surveyed range from about $5 million to approximately $150 million in annual sales or revenues. The survey was completed in January of this year.

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