Optimism among small- and mid-sized business has reached levels last seen during the pre-recession years of the early 2000s, according to a new survey by San Diego-based Vistage International.

The Vistage Confidence Index, which is scored as the percent giving favorable replies minus the percent unfavorable plus 100, was 107.5 in the fourth quarter 2014 survey — its highest level since 109.8 was recorded in the first quarter of 2005.

This 10-year optimism high among business leaders indicates that the majority believe the economy has made substantial progress and will continue to grow in 2015, Vistage said.

“In addition to the gain in confidence among CEOs in the closing quarter of 2014, indicators including the likelihood of increased interest rates around mid-2015, a tightening labor market and significant upward pressure on wages reflect the growing strength of the current U.S. economy,” said Dr. Richard Curtin, a research professor in economics and the director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan who analyzes all Vistage survey results.

Other notable survey findings include:

  • When asked about the national economy, 49 percent of respondents expected continued economic growth — up from 38 percent in the previous quarter.
  • Sixty-two percent of respondents plan to expand their workforce in the year ahead, up from 56 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the highest since 64 percent was recorded in the first quarter of 2006.
  • In hiring, nearly three out of four respondents cited either locating talent (40 percent) or the lack of skills among applicants (32 percent) as the most significant issue their business faces.

The Vistage CEO Confidence Index, established in 2003, is a quarterly survey of small- to mid-sized business CEOs about the U.S. economy. The latest survey includes responses from 1,456 U.S. CEOs.

Founded in 1957, Vistage assembles and facilitates private advisory boards for CEOs, senior executives and business owners. Vistage members participate in monthly, private advisory board meetings. More than 18,000 members in 16 countries also have access to one-to-one executive coaching, expert speakers, and our global network of business leaders.

Show comments

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.