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In the News: CPAs Predict Uptick in Hiring

AICPA Economic Outlook SurveyIt is--and has been--a tough time to look for a job in the United States (unless, of course, you are an accounting graduate). However, there may be some hope on the horizon for the legions of unemployed.

Business executives--while still expressing caution--continue to raise their expectations for hiring in the coming year. That’s according to the third quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, a survey of 1,228 CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other CPAs in U.S. companies who hold executive and senior management accounting roles.

The CPA Outlook Index—a comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the survey—remained unchanged from last quarter at 69 points. The index is a composite of nine, equally weighted survey measures set on a scale of 0 to 100, with 50 considered neutral and greater numbers signifying positive sentiment.

Index components that showed the highest quarter-to-quarter increase were employment, expansion plans, and revenue--each up two points over the second quarter. 

"To me, it indicates that business executives are still a little wary about the US economy's ability to jump forward, but more executives now believe there is enough stability to start expanding and hiring again," Jim Morrison, CPA, CGMA, chair of the AICPA Business & Industry Executive Committee, told AccountingWEB.

The U.S. Department of Labor employment report for August showed that current hiring trends are still fairly weak, with the DOL reporting yesterday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 309,000.

However, the AICPA survey serves as a forward-looking indicator of hiring expectations over the next 12 months. Some 15 percent of respondents now say they have too few employees and are planning to hire in the next 12 months, up from 12 percent last quarter and 9 percent a year ago. Another 19 percent say they have too few employees but are reluctant to bring on new staff. 

“We’ve seen expectations on hiring and business expansion gain steadily throughout the year,” said Arleen R. Thomas, CPA, CGMA, AICPA’s senior vice president of management accounting and global markets. “Our latest survey results support that but also show some renewed concern about prospects for the U.S. economy.”

The survey found some concern that renewed wrangling over taxes and government spending in Congress could discourage investments needed for growth.

“The debt ceiling, sequestration, issues around patent protection and some international business practices all really create a certain level of uncertainty which leads to some apprehension or some holding back of items, for example capital spending,” Gary Lubin, CPA, CITP, told Voice of America.

Additional noteworthy survey findings include:

  • Key Performance Indicators – Profit and revenue expectations continue to track upwards at a modest pace.
  • Hiring – Some 53 percent of business executives say their companies have the right number of employees. The largest companies (those with more than $1 billion in annual revenue) are more likely than other businesses to say they have too few employees. On an industry basis, the construction, technology, and professional, technical and scientific services sectors are expected to see the biggest job growth.
  • Health-Care Costs – Expected cost increases in this category rose to 6.8 percent, up slightly from the previous quarter and the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2010.

You can view the entire report on the AICPA website.

, AICPA Staff.

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