Optimism about the economy among CPAs appears to have stalled, according to a new survey.

A quarterly survey by the American Institute of CPAs and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business found that 40 percent of the 1,201 CPA executives they polled in October and November expressed pessimism about the economy, while 27 percent were optimistic. These percentages were virtually unchanged from July, after similar surveys had shown improvement in CPA optimism during the first six months of the year.

“The improvement in confidence among CPA financial executives that we saw in the prior six months appears to have leveled off,” said AICPA vice president for business, industry and government Carol Scott in a statement. “The good news is our members in business and industry — chief financial officers, controllers and CPA financial professionals — are saying the economy hit bottom six months ago. While there is some expansion taking place, the prospects for broad-based recovery remain uncertain.”

Forty percent of the CPA executives polled expressed pessimism about the economy, while 27 percent were optimistic. These percentages were virtually unchanged from the prior survey in July.

Expectations for when the economy will begin to improve have shifted once again. A majority of respondents, 61 percent, do not believe the economy will begin to improve until the second half of 2010 or beyond, up from 43 percent who held the same expectations three months ago. One in four thinks it will be 2011 before the economy begins to improve.

“The news here is mixed,” said UNC Kenan-Flagler accounting professor Mark Lang in a statement. “Executives remain pessimistic on the state of the U.S. economy as a whole. The better news is that they forecast modest expansion for their own firms, in terms of sales, profitability and spending, for the next 12 months.”

Optimism remains stable at relatively low levels, but expansion plans are up.  Only 38 percent of the CPA executives are optimistic about the prospects for their own organization, consistent with the third quarter. However, 45 percent now expect their businesses to expand in the next 12 months, up three percentage points from 42 percent last quarter.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access