AICPA Survey: Business Executives Glum on U.S. Economy

Senior-level CPAs are less optimistic about the prospects for the U.S. economy, the AICPA reports in its third quarter Economic Outlook Survey of CEOs, CFOs and other finance professionals in U.S. companies.

In fact, the survey says executives are more pessimistic now than they’ve been in 12 months on the outlook for their companies. “For the first two quarters in 2012, more than half said they were optimistic about their organization’s prospects,” says Arleen Thomas, AICPA’s senior vice president for management accounting. “Now, only 44% say so.”

Few respondents, at 9%, plan to hire new personnel, a figure that is down from 12% last quarter and the lowest rate of the past 12 months. In addition, 11% said they have too many employees.

The CPA Outlook Index fell four points to 63 for the quarter. The index is a gauge of executive sentiment using nine survey measures set on a scale from 0 to 100. Larger numbers mean more positive sentiment. Each component of the index fell this quarter compared to the previous quarter, with U.S. economic optimism showing a decline of 13 point to 41, the biggest drop. However, all index measures are higher now than in the third quarter of 2011.

The survey was conducted in August and included 1,365 responses from CPAs who hold leadership positions in their companies. You may review the entire survey online.