The Business Roundtable, a coalition of the largest companies in the U.S. employing more than 20 million workers, released its Q1 2021 CEO Economic Outlook Survey on Wednesday, which found that business leaders are looking forward to increased sales, hiring and capital investment over the next year.
"These survey results suggest that the economy is recovering, which is encouraging news, as there are many American workers, families and communities who are still hurting," Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillion, chairman of the Business Roundtable, said in a statement.
He continued: "Nothing can erase how tough the last year was, but eradicating the pandemic and strengthening the U.S. economic recovery can help us turn the page. For that to happen, it's important that as many people as possible get vaccinated when eligible and continue safety practices."
CEOs also expect GDP to grow 3.7% in 2021, and 72% of CEOs say conditions for their companies have already recovered or will recover by the end of the year. That's an improvement from the fourth quarter of 2020, when 67% of CEOs expected conditions to recover by that time, the survey found.
Plans for hiring rose from 30 points to 88 between the fourth quarter of 2020 and first quarter of 2021; plans for capital investment increased from 16 points to 100; and sales expectations surged from 17 points to 134 over the same time period, according to the survey.
The Business Roundtable has called on Congress to pass a COVID-19 relief package to help the U.S. economy recover.
"Thanks to American innovation, the heroic efforts of frontline workers and new resources to fight the pandemic, there is increasing reason to be optimistic about the prospects for a swift recovery," Business Roundtable President and CEO Joshua Bolten said in a statement. "We urge policymakers to focus on policies that will support – and not inhibit – that recovery."
U.S. equity markets rallied Wednesday as the U.S. House of Representatives readied to vote on President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
FOX Business' Jonathan Garber contributed to this report.