By  on April 8, 2010

While declining to 62 from 64 in the final quarter of 2009 after gains in each of the four quarters last year, the measure is still in positive territory. According to the board, a reading of more than 50 reflects more positive than negative responses.

“Ceo’s continue to rate current economic and industry conditions favorably, but expectations are that the pace of growth will not pick up in the months ahead,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Hiring plans are improved from last year, but less than a third expect employment levels to increase this year.”

On the jobs front, the board said more than 30 percent of ceo’s expect an increase in hiring in their industries, up from the less than 3 percent in the year-ago quarter.

The quarterly report, based on a survey of 100 ceo’s in various industries, trended upward throughout the four quarters of 2009. In last year’s first quarter, the measure rose to 30 from an all-time low of 24 in 2008’s fourth quarter. The measure proceeded to spike to 55 in the second quarter, followed by another jump to 63 in the third quarter. It climbed just one point higher to 64 in 2009’s fourth quarter.

In the most recent survey, 71 percent of ceo’s assessed current economic conditions as having improved when compared with six months ago, down from 75 percent last quarter. The board noted that when it came to “assessing theirown industries, business leaders’ attitudes improved, with 59 percent claiming conditions are now better, compared with 54 percent last quarter.”

On the expectations side, which looks ahead six months, the board said 52 percent of those surveyed “expect economic conditions to improve in the next six months, down from 58 percent last quarter.”

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