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Execs optimistic about economy, cautious about hiring

June 06 2013

Forty-nine percent of business executives describe themselves as “optimistic” or “very optimistic” about U.S. economic prospects, up from 32 percent at the start of the year, according to the second-quarter American Institute of CPAs’ second-quarter economic outlook survey. Business executives’ optimism about the U.S. economy now stands at its highest point since early 2007, although lingering concerns continue to curtail hiring plans.

The survey polled CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other certified public accountants 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— rose three points to 69 for the quarter, matching a post-recession high last reached in the first quarter of 2012.

“In addition to holding a more optimistic view of the economy, executives are feeling much better about their own business prospects,” said Arleen Thomas, AICPA’s senior vice president for management accounting and global markets. “Some three out of five companies are now expecting to expand over the next 12 months.”

Executives who said they were optimistic about their company’s prospects increased to 57 percent in the second quarter from 50 percent in the first quarter to reach highest level for this category since the first quarter of 2011. However, hiring plans remain limited, with survey takers only projecting headcount growth of one percent over the next year, down slightly from last quarter.

Fifty-seven percent of companies reported they have the right number of employees, 10 percent said they have too many, and 31 percent they have too few employees. Of those that need employees, 12 percent to hire consistent with the first quarter; however, the remaining 19 percent are hesitating to hire.

The survey of AICPA Business & Industry members was conducted between May 16 and May 30, 2013, and had 1,185 qualified respondents.

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