ACI — May 2020: Another major drop

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After seeing its greatest drop ever in March, the Accountants Confidence Index dropped even more precipitously in April, as the coronavirus pandemic weighed ever-more heavily on the economy and on people's lives.

Respondents to our monthly survey were sure of only two things: The economy is taking a major hit, and small businesses are bearing the brunt of it. Opinions were wildly divided as to the actual severity of the coronavirus pandemic, how long it and the economic downturn will last, and whether the best approach is to open the economy up ASAP, or wait for widespread testing.

The ACI, published in partnership with ADP, is a monthly economic indicator that leverages the insights of accountants into the strength and prospects of businesses in the U.S. The 3-Month ACI plummetted to 29.35, its lowest point ever and down significantly from the previous month's 41.99 (and far, far below the 50 mark that separates expectations of growth from expectations of contraction). The 6-Month ACI, meanwhile, came in at 40.18, off more than seven points from last month's 47.27.

The index components saw further drops as well, with the short-term prospects for the economy taking the deepest — with accountants' confidence in the short-term growth prospects of small businesses falling the furthest.

The ACI is created from a monthly poll of the Accounting Today Executive Research Council, an online community of more than 1,500 tax and accounting professionals.