CPAs who work as business executives are feeling more optimistic about the prospects for the U.S. economy and their own businesses over the next 12 months, according to a new survey by the American Institute of CPAs.
The AICPA Economic Outlook Survey found that 55 percent of the 1,358 CFOs, controllers and other CPAs in executive and senior management accounting roles who were polled this quarter said they were optimistic or very optimistic about the outlook for their organizations over the next 12 months, compared to 45 percent last quarter. Approximately 14 percent of the respondents said they are planning to add new staff immediately, a slight increase over last quarter.
Almost one-in-five of the survey respondents said their company needs to hire more employees, but their organization is hesitating until the economy improves. Some 57 percent said they had the right amount of employees.
The technology sector is expected to add the most jobs over the next 12 months, according to the survey. Health care providers such as hospitals and nursing homes are projected to add the least number of jobs. Approximately 61 percent of the respondents said they expect to expand their business at least a little over the next 12 months. Nearly 57 percent of the survey takers said they planned to increase their IT budget to some degree over the next 12 months.
“Optimists now outnumber pessimists on the U.S. economy by an almost 2-to-1 margin, which is a striking change from six months ago,” said AICPA vice president for business, industry and government Carol Scott in a statement. “While a substantial number of respondents remain neutral, we’re seeing a clear shift toward a more positive outlook for the coming year.”
The CPA Outlook Index, a gauge of executive sentiment within the survey, rose five points to 69, a post-recession high that matches the index score from the first quarter a year ago. The index is a composite of nine, equally weighted survey measures set on a scale from 0 to 100, with 50 considered neutral and numbers above that signifying positive sentiment.
While each of the nine components increased over the readings in the fourth quarter of last year, the fastest-rising element of the index is optimism about the U.S. economy, which jumped from 40 points to 61. It had fallen to as low as 25 points in the third quarter of 2011. Still, while the component has gone up dramatically over the past two quarters, it continues to be the lowest-scoring measure in the index and remains below the level reached a year ago.
A copy of the full report can be found here.
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