Latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey points to increase in U.S. Economy optimism

According to the results of the Q2 AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, executives across the country are feeling a bit more hopeful about the U.S. economy’s outlook than last quarter, the AICPA announced on Thursday.

The Economic Outlook Survey polls CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other CPAs in U.S. companies who hold senior management roles. The Q2 survey was conducted May 10-26 2016 and received 744 qualified responses.

Approximately 37 percent of those polled expressed optimism about the U.S. economy over the next year, an upgrade from a three-year low (28 percent) last quarter. However, the same measurement polled at 68 percent in the first quarter of 2015.

Concerning the hiring outlook, about 19 percent of executives say their businesses are looking to hire immediately - up from 15 percent last quarter. Executives who say their company needs professionals but are cautious to hire increased to 18 percent - up 2 percent from last quarter.

“The good news is the slide in sentiment about the U.S. economy has reversed course and key performance indicators are pointing back up,” said Arleen Thomas, senior vice president of management accounting and global markets at the AICPA, in a statement. “But there’s a long way to go to get back to the levels of optimism we saw in late 2014 and early 2015. On top of that, the presidential election and global economic uncertainty add some wild cards going forward.”

The CPA Outlook Index—a gauge of executive sentiment within the AICPA survey— also rose five points in Q2 to 68, but still remains below the post-recession high of 78 set in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Other significant findings of the survey include:

  • First quarter optimism concerning executives’ own organizations was below 50 percent for the first time since 2012. This quarter increased 9 points to 53 percent.
  • Some 58 percent of executives said they expect their companies to expand in the next 12 months – an increase of six percentage points from last quarter.
  • Investing in technology 0.3 percentage points from last quarter to 2.6 percent. Other capital spending also rose to 2.1 percent from 1.5 percent, quarter over quarter
  • Some 23 percent of executives listed inflation as a potential issue, compared to 12 percent for deflation.

For a full copy of the Q2 Economic Outlook Survey, head to the AICPA's site here.

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