Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Few More CPAs are Feeling a Little Bit More Optimistic

Financial executives and CPAs are feeling a bit less pessimistic about the economy these days, according to the second quarter Economic Outlook Survey from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School shows.

Only about half the 1,071 CPAs surveyed in late April and early May were pessimistic about the U.S. economy over the next year, which seems like bad news until it’s compared to last quarter, when an all-time-high 82 percent of the survey respondents reported feeling “pessimistic” or “very pessimistic” about the economy.

The shift suggests a leveling of confidence, says Arleen Thomas, AICPA's senior vice president for member competency and development.

The proportion of CPAs feeling optimistic, 19 percent, was up 14 points, as well. That left 28 percent feeling “neutral” on the U.S. outlook.

"There seems to be a broad consensus that the worst of the downturn is over for the U.S. economy,” said UNC Kenan-Flagler Accounting Professor Mark Lang, Ph.D. “On the other hand, it is disconcerting that, while managers are generally more optimistic than they had been, they appear to be conservative in their investment and hiring plans. Overall, the results suggest that we may have reached a bottom, but improvements in spending and employment are likely to be very gradual."

Nearly half of those surveyed, 45 percent, said they expected a reduction in employment, down five percentage points from 50 percent who had said three months earlier that they expected the number of employees to decrease.

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