Businesswoman in a warehouse. A lady with style dressed in a business gray suit stands in a warehouse with crossing arms. The female CEO looks straight into the camera, the business owner

Small and midsize business CEOs are feeling slightly better than last quarter, according to the latest Vistage CEO Confidence Index. The index reading ticked up to 76, continuing an upward trend for the year.

However, SMB CEO confidence is still considerably lower than in previous years.

“The last five quarters have established a new floor for the Vistage CEO Confidence Index, one that is well below historical norms. The heat on hiring has been turned down considerably with 48% planning on increasing headcount in the year ahead, the lowest percentage in the last ten years with the exception of Q2 2020,” Joe Galvin, Vistage’s chief research officer, said in a press release. “It’s no surprise the top challenge we’re hearing from CEOs across the board is managing growth. Sluggish demand due to hesitant customers, a desire for profitable growth, and the need to scale for future growth cycles indicates that the new abnormal has become the status quo.”

Highlights from the report:

  • 16% of SMB CEOs say that the economy has improved in the last year, while 46% believe it has gotten worse. 42% expect the economy to get worse over the next 12 months.
  • Less than half (48%) plan to increase hiring in the next year, while 10% plan to decrease headcount. One-third (35%) say it’s easier to fill job openings now than it was at the beginning of the year.
  • More than half (55%) expect increased revenue in the next year, but only 42% anticipate higher profits. The discrepancy is due to higher costs, especially for labor.