Inflation Concerns Persist in New AICPA Survey

U.S. business executives are expecting lower profit and revenue growth over the next 12 months, largely due to ongoing inflation worries, according to the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey.

The third-quarter edition of the poll surveyed 375 CPAs who hold leadership positions during the period of August 2-22, with only 18% of respondents expressing optimism about the U.S. economy’s outlook over the next 12 months – the same level as last quarter, when the measure hit an 11-year low. The outlook for the global economy also fell this quarter, with only 9% of U.S. executives expressing optimism for the 12-month outlook.

Survey respondents expect zero profit growth over the next 12 months, down from an anticipated rate of 0.7% last quarter and 2.5% a year ago. Revenue projections also fell, quarter over quarter, from an expected 3.4% growth rate over the next 12 months to 2.6%. Both of these indicators are at their lowest levels since the latter half of 2020.

“The degree of pessimism over the economy was unchanged this quarter after bottoming out in the spring,” says Ash Noah, vice president and managing director of learning, education and development for AICPA and CIMA. “It’s concerning, though, that business executives’ views of their own company’s prospects are eroding. Only 41% of survey-takers expressed optimism about their organization’s outlook this quarter, down from 47%. That’s a reflection, at least in part, of the pressure we’re seeing on profit and revenue projections.”

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

  • When it comes to hiring, 34% of survey respondents said their organizations are looking to fill roles immediately, while another 19% said they had too few employees but are hesitant to hire, and 5% said they had too many employees.
  • Inflation remained the top concern of business executives for the fourth quarter in a row, with “materials/supplies/equipment costs” and “availability of skilled personnel” rounding out the top three for the second straight quarter.
  • The percentage of business executives who said their companies plan to expand fell from 53% to 49%, quarter over quarter. Meanwhile, the number who said they expected their companies to contract rose from 14% to 25% since last quarter.



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