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In the News: AICPA Survey Finds Businesses Increasing Hiring and Spending in Coming Year

EOS 1 14The AICPA recently released the results of the first quarter Economic Outlook Survey, which found business executives reporting a more favorable view on hiring and business expansion in the coming year. One of the motivating factors of this is an increased optimism about the U.S. economy as a whole.

Fox Business coverage of the survey, which polls CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other CPAs who hold executive and senior management accounting roles in U.S. companies, noted that just under half of respondents (49 percent) are feeling optimistic or very optimistic about the U.S. economy. Only 38 percent of executives felt equally positive last quarter.

The CPA Outlook Index—a comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the AICPA survey— rose a single point in the first quarter to 70 percent, a post-recession high. 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. The AICPA survey is a forward-looking indicator that tracks hiring and business-related expectations for the next 12 months

Speaking about the survey results, James Morrison, CPA, CGMA, CFO of Teknor Apex and chair of AICPA’s Business & Industry Executive Committee, told ABC News “we’re getting a little more comfortable that the economy can sustain growth. You need a strong base before companies are willing to make long-term decisions to hire.”

On hiring, a majority of respondents (56 percent) continue to say their companies have the right number of employees. But 15 percent said they planned to hire immediately, up from 13 percent last quarter, while the percentage of survey takers who said their companies had too many employees shrank from 10 to 8. A majority of companies (75 percent) with hiring plans said they are seeking full-time workers. Only two percent said they were predominantly seeking part-time or temporary workers.

Emily Bader, covering the survey results in NJBiz, quoted Arleen R. Thomas, CPA, CGMA, AICPA’s senior vice president of management accounting and global markets. “We’re seeing signs that businesses are thinking more concretely about resources they’ll need in place, from expanded staffing to investments in technology and other capital projects, to handle future growth,” said Thomas.

Earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the U.S. economy was not close to full employment, though the unemployment rate has dropped a full percentage point – to 6.7 percent – in the last 12 months.

Despite the economy not being close to full employment, there is a growing expectation among survey respondents that the talent search will be competitive: Among the top 10 challenges identified within the survey, “availability of skilled personnel” rose from the No. 6 spot a quarter ago to No. 4. 

, Media Relations Manager, American Institute of CPAs.

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