Optimism Highest Since Recession, AICPA Survey Says

Most business executives are optimistic about the economy for the first time since the recession, according to the second quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey.

About 51% of business executives are now optimistic, which is up 2% from last quarter. The level was at 5% in early 2009, the height of the recession, the AICPA says.

In addition, about 61% of business executives expressed optimism about their own company’s prospects, a two-point increase over last quarter, and 17% of companies said they have too few employees and plan to hire immediately, up from 15% last quarter.

“We have to wait and see if we’ve truly turned a corner, but executives are clearly feeling more comfortable about the domestic business climate going forward,” says Arleen Thomas, the AICPA’s senior vie president of management accounting and global markets.

The survey, conducted in mid-May, includes responses from 1,810 CEOs, CFOs, controllers and CPAs.

Managers are now more concerned with hiring and keeping staff. No. 3 on the list of top challenges is “availability of skilled personnel,” which is up from No. 6 at the end of 2013. “Staff turnover” moved up three points to No. 10, the survey says.

The CPA Outlook Index – a comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the AICPA survey – rose two points in the second quarter to 72, a post-recession high. The index is a composite of nine, equally weighted survey measures set on a scale of 0 to 100, with 50 considered neutral.