US economy optimism hits 3-year high, says AICPA

Some 70% of respondents expressed optimism about the US economy over the next 12 months, up from 47% last quarter

Optimism regarding the US economy has hit a three-year high, as business executives are predicting the economy will “roar back” in the coming year, according to the second-quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey. 

The survey, which polls CEOs, CFOs, controllers and other certified public accountants who hold executive and senior management accounting roles, found that 70% of respondents expressed optimism about the US economy over the next 12 months, up from 47% last quarter.

Business executives’ optimism about their own organization’s prospects over the next 12 months also rose to 76% from 58% last quarter, while 69% of executives say their companies plan to expand in the next 12 months, up from 58%.

In addition, profits are expected to grow by 4% in the next 12 months, more than doubling last quarter’s 1.9% forecast. Revenues are expected to climb 5%, up from 3%, and both projections are at their highest level since 2018.

It comes as government relief funds, vaccine rollouts and relaxed workplace restrictions have improved business conditions. 

The findings mark the first time a majority of executives have held a positive sentiment on the economy since the pandemic began in the first quarter last year, and it’s the highest level that measure has reached since the second quarter of 2018.

Some concerns remain, however. The availability of skilled personnel was again a top-cited challenge for businesses as job recruitment turns up, whilst two-thirds of business executives now express concern about inflation, up from 44% last quarter. 

Nonetheless, the hiring picture has “significantly improved”, according to the survey, with 33% of executives saying their companies planned to fill positions immediately, up from 19% last quarter. 

Ash Noah, CPA, CGMA, VP and managing director of CGMA learning, education and development for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, said: “What we’re seeing is a broad expectation that things will really open up in the second half of the year.

“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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