Virginia Economic Outlook Index Down Slightly in Q2 2021, Employers Hesitant to Require Vaccine

CEOs Expect Sales and Employment to Increase Over Next Six Months With Capital Spending Remaining Flat.
August 27, 2021

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND ─ The University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business and the Virginia Council of CEOs’ quarterly CEO Economic Outlook Survey finds that expectations over the next six months for sales and employment are positive with capital spending remaining flat compared with expectations at the end of Q1 2021.

More than half (68%) of CEOs indicated that they expect sales to increase over the next six months. About 15% expected sales to be “significantly higher” while 53% expected sales to be “higher.” Additionally, about 7% expected sales to be “lower” while only 3% expected sales to be “significantly lower.” An additional 22% indicated they expected no change.

Approximately 36% of CEOs expect capital spending to increase over the next six months (compared with 44% last quarter), while more than 12% expect capital spending to decrease. More than 52% expect capital spending to remain flat. 

About 59% of respondent CEOs expect employment to increase over the next six months. Additionally, about 34% expect employment to remain flat while only 7% expect employment to fall. 

Taken as a whole, the results pertaining to sales, capital spending, and employment are still positive but produce a slight reduction in the economic outlook (94.6 versus 103) relative to the results from the end of Q1 2021.  

In addition to the survey questions regarding sales, capital spending, and employment, the survey asked CEOs to express their plans, if any, with regard to requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to work in-person. The responses regarding required vaccinations was as follows:

  • Yes (will require vaccination): 10%
  • No (will NOT require vaccination): 63%
  • Unclear at this time whether vaccination will be required: 27%

Additionally, CEOs were asked what the overall impact was on their business over the timeframe of the pandemic. Their response was as follows:

  • The business is stronger than pre-pandemic: 60%
  • The business is weaker than pre-pandemic: 16%
  • The business is unchanged relative to pre-pandemic: 24%

The Robins School and VACEOs jointly conduct the quarterly survey, which regularly asks about expectations for sales, capital spending, and employment, along with other relevant issues, helping Virginia companies anticipate business conditions and plan for growth. The Robins School adapted the survey from the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of American companies that conducts a similar survey nationally. Rich Boulger, associate dean at the Robins School, administers the survey and collects the responses. The quarterly survey has been administered since 2010. 

The following survey results from the first quarter of 2021 and the second quarter of 2021 show projections for the next six months for sales, capital spending, and employment.

Projected six-month sales, capital spending, and employment



Q2 2021

Q1 2021


No Change



No Change


How do you expect your company’s sales to change in the next six months?







How do you expect your company’s U.S. capital spending to change in the next six months?







How do you expect your company’s U.S. employment to change in the next six months?







“The survey results suggest that CEOs remain optimistic about the next six months, although they do not expect as much growth as they did a quarter ago. This is likely due to the fact that they have experienced significant growth over the last quarter and are basing growth projections on a higher base,” said Boulger.

“The remarkable thing to me in this survey is that 60% of the CEOs reported that their businesses were stronger than pre-pandemic,” said Scot McRoberts, executive director of VACEOs. “This syncs with the observation that the pandemic hit hardest in narrow verticals. The slight dip in the index may be related to recent news of a COVID surge, along with ongoing workforce shortages. I see continuing optimism among the small and mid-sized business CEOs with whom I work.”


Fifty-nine CEOs responded to the survey, which was administered July 12-16. Multiple industries are represented in the sample although services and construction represented the majority of the respondents. The average company whose CEO responded to this survey had about $18 million in revenue for the most recent 12-month period. The average employment was 80.

The Council continues to expand the survey beyond its members, offering any area business owners whose companies gross at least $1 million in annual revenue the opportunity to participate. If enough businesses participate, the Council will provide survey results by industry. Participation is free, and all participants will receive copies of the survey data.

Business owners and CEOs who would like to participate in the next survey should contact Scot McRoberts at


The Virginia Council of CEOs is a nonprofit association whose mission is to connect the CEOs of small and mid-sized businesses for learning and growth. The Council is led by a volunteer board of directors, advisory board, and a small staff. Currently, there are 235 CEO members, mainly in Richmond and Charlottesville. Learn more at

The Robins School of Business is the only fully accredited, highly ranked undergraduate business school that also is part of a highly-ranked liberal arts university. U.S. News ranks the Robins School’s MBA program #2 in Virginia. The school’s executive education division offers customized training and consulting to a wide variety of businesses.