Executives in accounting roles have grown less pessimistic about the U.S. economy over the past year. Learn more about today’s report from the AICPA.
Executives have grown less pessimistic about the U.S. economy and prospects for their own businesses, according to the CPA Outlook Index released today by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The index showed its biggest quarterly improvement in more than two years, rising 7 points to 66 in the first quarter, but remains below its post-recession high of 69.
“Corporate executives are still concerned about unemployment levels, deficit and debt issues, and political gridlock,” Arleen Thomas, a senior vice president with the AICPA, said in a statement. “But a solid majority of survey takers now expect to see their business expand in the coming year, and we’re seeing a slight uptick in hiring plans.”
The survey, conducted over the second half of February, polled 1,376 chief executive officers, chief financial officers, controllers and other certified public accountants holding executive and senior management positions with U.S. companies. The ongoing study tracks sentiment over nine economic indicators. “This quarter all components of the index rose – a stark contrast to last quarter, when each element fell,” the AICPA said in a statement.
The biggest change was seen in the outlook for the U.S. economy, according to the AICPA. The outlook rose from a pessimistic to neutral stance, and the number of executives who reported a pessimistic view fell from 49 percent to 31 percent. Half the executives indicated they were optimistic about their own businesses, up from 41 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Expectations for revenue, profits and headcount growth also rebounded in the first quarter of 2013. Twelve percent of the survey participants reported plans to hire in the near future, up from 8 percent last quarter.
The survey also revealed shifting concerns among the accounting executives. They worry most about domestic economic conditions and regulatory requirements and changes, but “employee and benefit cost concerns” have replaced “domestic political leadership” as their third most-pressing concern.