Optimism Abounds in New AICPA Survey

Business executives are predicting the economy will roar back in the coming year, with revenue and profit growth expectations not seen since 2018, according to the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey. The second quarter edition of the poll surveyed 770 CPAs who hold leadership positions during the period of April 27 to May 24, with 70% of respondents expressing optimism about the U.S. economy, up from 47% in the previous quarter.

Despite an uptick in concern regarding challenges such as the availability of skilled personnel and the potential for inflation, survey participants remain resoundingly positive overall, with 76% optimistic about their own organizations’ prospects over the next 12 months (up from 58% last quarter) and 69% saying their companies plan to expand in the next 12 months (also up from 58%).

Among the other key findings in this edition of the survey:

  • Profit and revenue expectations are both at their highest levels since 2018. Revenue is now projected to increase at a rate of 5% over the coming 12 months, up from 3% last quarter, and profits are projected to climb 4%, up from 1.9%.
  • Fifty percent of business executives expressed optimism about the global economy, up from 37% last quarter.
  • On the hiring front, 33% of respondents say their companies planned to fill positions immediately, up from 19% last quarter. Another 14% said they have too few employees but are hesitant to hire. The percentage of executives who said their companies had too many employees declined from 7% to 4%, quarter over quarter.

“What we’re seeing is a broad expectation that things will really open up in the second half of the year,” says Ash Noah, AICPA managing director of CGMA learning, education and development. “Many issues remain, of course. Supply chains are still straining to meet demand in a number of sectors. The global response to the pandemic still contains many uncertainties, which impacts the United States. But we are clearly seeing growing confidence on the part of business executives that the worst is behind us.”

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