US Economy

Caterpillar CEO: We need policy reform; no CEO wants to give up on jobs

CAT CEO: Optimistic on pro-business government

Bringing jobs back to the U.S. is good, but companies will need policy reform, Caterpillar's Doug Oberhelman told CNBC on Wednesday.

Regulation, labor, and health care policy top the list of economic concerns for executives, Oberhelman said, but with an incoming administration that is pro-business, the CEO said corporate leaders have become more hopeful.

"There's an optimism out there that helps people," Oberhelman told "Squawk Box." "I think every new administration comes in with some degree of optimism. Everybody's hopeful something can get done."

Oberhelman, who is retiring as chairman and CEO of the construction equipment manufacturer next year, spoke on the sidelines of the Business Roundtable meeting in Washington.

"I like the fact that we're talking about job creation and keeping jobs here," he said in a nod to President-elect Donald Trump's push for U.S.-based companies to stop sending jobs overseas. "Nobody wants to give up an American job. Not one CEO."

But the CEO acknowledged that things may have to change. "Will it change our behavior? Yeah, we'll think about it. But with that, we need some policy reform, like tax reform," Oberhelman said. "We think the government's ready to go on that. We're ready to go on that."