Most CPAs who serve as chief executives, chief financial officers and in other corporate decision-making positions, are optimistic about the U.S. economy, according to the latest Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey conducted by the American Institute of CPAs.

More than half of the CPA executives polled believe the economy will continue to improve, a slightly higher percentage than those who responded similarly in the previous survey, which took place in June 2005. Nearly three-quarters revealed a positive outlook for their own organization's prospects over the next six months.

Spending on information technology continues to be strong, with 55 percent saying that it would increase. Only 5 percent predicted a reduction in spending.

"In spite of increasing concern about energy costs and other factors, we are continuing to see a good deal of optimism in the corporate sector," said AICPA president and chief executive Barry C. Melancon, in a statement.

Less than half of the respondents, 45 percent, anticipate a boost in hiring by their company over the next six months, but that is still a greater number than the 40 percent who made the same prediction in June. Only 11 percent said that their organization would downsize its workforce.

Conducted in December, the survey represents the views of 1,903 AICPA members -- 216 who serve as chief executives and another 985 who are chief financial officers. Of the total survey sample, 60 percent work for privately held companies.

The complete survey results, which also focus on other areas of concern and policy issues, are available at the AICPA Financial Management Center, http://fmcenter.aicpa.org .

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