Despite positive job numbers in recent years in the U.S., the employment picture globally appears much gloomier, according to a new survey from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants.
The latest Global Economic Conditions Survey from ACCA and IMA found that more than half of businesses globally are either cutting or freezing employment, while only 14 percent are increasing investment in staff in Q1 2016. The GECS survey polled more than 1,200 finance professionals and more than 100 CFOs around the world.
The survey findings in the U.S. are significantly rosier, indicating an improvement in business confidence during the first quarter. While indications of the state of the American economy were mixed, the survey showed that 26 percent of businesses in North America were creating new jobs in Q1, up from 20 percent in Q4, representing a larger percentage than in almost any other region globally, and well above the global average of 19 percent.
“Business confidence in the U.S. continues to recover, but there is a global need to innovate,” said IMA vice president of research and policy Raef Lawson in a statement. “After the opportunity to lower costs, benefiting from focusing on innovation was the second opportunity most identified by firms. Indeed, in a difficult global environment, firms are under as much pressure as ever—if not more—to innovate and get ahead of the competition. This can be seen in the growing number of firms citing innovation as an opportunity: 40% in Q1 2016, compared with 36% of firms in Q4 2015 and 33% in Q3 2015.”
The proportion of North American businesses that were increasing investment in capital projects—23 percent—was far higher than the global average, suggesting the underlying health of the U.S. economy is stronger than media reports have indicated. However, the opposite is true in emerging markets.
“Take North America out of the equation and the economic picture painted by this survey isn’t a pretty one,” said Faye Chua, head of business insight at ACCA. “Emerging markets are besieged. Revenues for commodities firms have collapsed since mid-2014. And business confidence in China has fallen to its lowest level since our records began. Almost half of businesses reported a drop in income in Q1. As a result, every region except North America saw a jump in the number of businesses cutting capital expenditure. With emerging economies continuing to struggle with low commodity prices and many businesses on a spending lock down, the outlook for the global economy is becoming increasingly gloomy.”