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Data & Results

Oct. 7, 2020

Corporate financial decision-makers generally expect employment and revenues to remain below pre-COVID levels until at least 2021, although they remain optimistic about the future financial prospects for the U.S. economy and their own firms.

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Key Results Summary

CFO OptimismQ3 2020Q2 2020
Optimism about own company (0 to 100)70.469.8
Optimism about the U.S. economy (0 to 100)61.059.8
Note: Mean optimism values are unweighted.
CFOs’ Growth Expectations for Their Own FirmsQ3 2020Q2 2020
Mean Expected Year-Over-Year Percentage Change for Calendar Years2020202120202021
Employment (full-time)-2.4%2.2%-5.1%4.2%
Wage Bill1.9%5.4%-2.6%4.4%
Non-wage Compensation3.8%6.0%1.1%6.4%
Note: Revenue and Prices are weighted by sales revenue. Employment, Wage Bill, and Non-wage Compensation are weighted by employment. These data are also winsorized at 2.5% and 97.5% to remove the potential influence of extreme values. All variables are full calendar year expectations except for 2020 employment from the Q2 2020 survey, which was calculated using respondents’ employment levels from before the start of the pandemic in early March.
CFOs’ Expectations for Real GDP Growth Over Next Four Quarters
Q3 2020Q2 2020
Weighted Mean2.2%0.6%
Weighted Median1.5%0.9%
Probability of Negative Growth
Note: Responses are weighted by sales revenue.
Please refer to the full results for Q3 2020 and The CFO Survey Methodology for more information.

April 2020 and Prior

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and CFO magazine previously conducted the Global Business Outlook by surveying CFOs of companies and subscribers of CFO magazine around the world each quarter. An archive of past surveys is available at


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