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WSJ/Vistage May 2020: Free-fall in small business confidence ends

Confidence among small businesses improved slightly in May, largely driven by increasing expectations for economic improvement. This is according to the most recent survey conducted of small business CEOs by Vistage in partnership with the Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ/Vistage Small Business CEO Confidence Index rose to 58.3 in May, still far below October’s peak of 105.7. This small gain is driven by the economic engines that are beginning to turn as many states begin to relax restrictions in the first phase of the recovery. And while small business CEOs expect improvement to the economy in the next 12 months, the reality is that the pandemic will impact the pace of growth over time.

Small business CEOs believe the recovery will take place over a long time, and their individual views are very much based on where they are located, their industry, their customer base as well as whether they are deemed an essential business. When asked when economic improvement would begin in the U.S., just 14% of small business CEOs expect improvement within two months, 30% expect it to begin in three to five months, 33% expect it to begin in six to 12 months, and 20% expect it to take more than one year. Dr. Curtin shares that “these projections reflect the fact that the recovery is dependent on a resolution to the coronavirus as well as reversing the extraordinary economic losses.”


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