More than half of business executives (51%) in the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey believe the U.S. economy is either already in recession or will be by the new year.
The fourth-quarter edition of the poll, which surveyed 551 CPAs who hold leadership positions during the period of Oct. 25 – Nov. 17, found only 12% of respondents expressing optimism about the U.S. economy’s outlook over the next 12 months – down from 18% last quarter and 41% a year ago. Inflation, rising interest rates and high energy costs were cited as key reasons for pessimism in the outlook.
Uncertainty looms heavily over survey participants, with more than 1 in 4 saying forecasting has become significantly more complex over the past year and another 37% saying it became slightly more complex, with pricing issues, supply chain reliability, labor costs and shifting consumer demand emerging as key factors.
“We saw record increases in the frequency of forecasting and projections during the pandemic and that trend is clearly continuing amid uncertainty over inflation, supply chain integrity and recession risk,” says Tom Hood, executive vice president for business engagement and growth for AICPA and CIMA. “We expect this pace to stay strong as companies work on their cash flow through the next few quarters.”
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 (even with the previous quarter), while another 17% said they had too few employees but are hesitant to hire, and 8% said they had too many employees.
- Inflation remained the top concern of business executives for the fifth quarter in a row, with “employee and benefit costs” and “availability of skilled personnel” rounding out the top three.
- The percentage of business executives who said their companies plan to expand fell from 49% to 47%, quarter over quarter.