Business executives are feeling more confident about the U.S. economy’s prospects than last quarter, but remain more guarded in outlook than they were a year ago, according to the second quarter “AICPA Economic Outlook Survey,: which polls chief executive officers, chief financial officers, controllers and other certified public accountants in U.S. companies who hold executive and senior management accounting roles.
Some 37 percent of survey takers expressed optimism about the U.S. economy over the next 12 months, up from a three-year low of 28 percent last quarter. That measure stood as high as 68 percent in the first quarter of 2015, however. Profit and revenue expectations also improved in the quarter, but remain below projected growth rates from a year ago.
One bright spot this quarter is hiring outlook: Some 19 percent of business executives say their organizations are ready to hire immediately, up from 15 percent last quarter. The percentage of executives who say their company needs employees but are reluctant to hire also increased from 16 percent last quarter to 18 percent.
“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 R. Thomas, CPA, CGMA, the AICPA’s senior vice president of management accounting and global markets. “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 AICPA survey is a forward-looking indicator that tracks hiring and business-related expectations for the next 12 months.