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Why Corporate America is jumping for joy while millions of workers remain jobless

February 18, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 63%. 2 min read.

A pedestrian walks with an umbrella near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during a winter storm in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. A meandering storm will leave New York and the Northeast with??up to??8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow through Friday, while ice and cold continue to plague Texas. Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

America's CEOs are the most confident they have been in 17 years, as company leaders expect fewer layoffs and further improvements in the business environment, according to a recent survey from the Conference Board, a non-profit think tank.

New York (CNN Business)America's CEOs are the most confident they have been in 17 years, as company leaders expect fewer layoffs and further improvements in the business environment, according to a recent survey from the Conference Board, a non-profit think tank.

But this sentiment doesn't align with the experience of millions of Americans who are still unemployed and need government aid to make ends meet as a result of the pandemic.

For example, a recent consumer sentiment survey from the University of Michigan showed that households making less than $75,000 per year felt especially pessimistic about their financial futures as of February.

Meanwhile, CEO confidence stood at 73 points in the first quarter of the year, marking its highest level since the same period in 2004, according to the Conference Board.

CEOs think the outlook for wages has improved and the potential for layoffs is lower.

Only 12% of surveyed CEOs said they expect a workforce reduction over the next 12 months, down from a hefty 34% in the fourth quarter survey.

Also, 82% of CEOs expect the economy to improve over the next six months, a jump from 63%.

"With the vaccine rollout underway in major economies, CEOs entered 2021 historically upbeat," said Dana Peterson, chief economist at the Conference Board.

The strength in the market is due to hope for more government stimulus to bring the economy back to life, as well as the rollout of vaccines across the country.

But for millions of Americas the stock market's highs make little difference in their lives.

Meanwhile, many of those who have returned to work have seen their hours or wages cut, or perhaps both, as the pandemic economy exacerbates America's inequities.

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