Survey: Recession Fears Fade

With concerns about inflation and a potential recession ticking down, business executives have grown a little less pessimistic about the U.S. economy’s prospects.

Only 16% of respondents in the latest AICPA Economic Outlook Survey now expect a recession by the end of 2023 – down from 47% last quarter – while 29% expressed optimism about the U.S. economy’s prospects over the next 12 months, almost double the 14% in the previous quarter. Even so, this third-quarter edition of the poll, which surveyed 401 CPAs who hold leadership positions during the period of Aug. 1-24, found that 27% of participants still expect to see a recession in 2024.

Inflation, which was cited by respondents as the top business challenge in every survey since the end of 2021, was supplanted this quarter by “availability of skilled personnel,” signaling continued tightness in the labor market, as well as perceived skill gaps in the workforce.

“Most of the indicators we track are up this quarter, buoyed by greater prospects for a soft landing for the economy and a sense that inflation may have peaked,” says Tom Hood, executive vice president for business engagement and growth for AICPA and CIMA. “There’s still substantial wariness about the economic outlook, however. One strong positive is that half of business executives now expect to see expansion in their organizations over the next 12 months.”

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