Optimism About U.S. Economy Hits Post-Recession High, AICPA Survey Finds

Business executives’ optimism about the U.S. economy continues to soar but is tempered somewhat by growing inflation concerns, according to the first-quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey.

Seventy-nine percent of business executives said they were upbeat about prospects for the economy, eclipsing last quarter’s post-Great Recession high of 74%. As a point of reference, optimism levels were as low as 28% in early 2016. Survey respondents’ view of their own companies’ outlook over the next 12 months also set a post-recession record, with 71% expressing optimism.

“Business executives are drawing a lot of confidence from current economic indicators, and cite federal tax reform and deregulation as two factors in their improved outlook over the next year,” says Arleen Thomas, managing director of Americas market, global offerings and CGMA exam, management accounting for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. “At the same time, we’re seeing an uptick in concerns often associated with a hot economy, from talent pool issues to rising inflation fears.”

On the job front, half of business executives say their companies have the right number of employees. Hiring plans continue to improve, however, with 27% of companies saying they plan to fill positions immediately (up two percentage points from last quarter) and another 14% (up one percentage point) indicating they have too few employees but are hesitant to hire. Finding the right candidates remains an issue, however: ‘availability of skilled personnel’ remains the No. 1 challenge for businesses for the third quarter in a row.