Surveys agree: Pessimism about economy grows

Posted June 7, 2012


— Two major surveys of corporate financial executives this week show a stark contrast hiring outlook but are in agreement that optimism about economic growth is dropping.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which maintains an office in Durham, found only 12 percent of chief executive officers, chief financial officers and other financial executives surveyed planned to expand payrolls over the next 12 months.

On Wednesday, a survey of CFOs from Duke University and CFO Magazine found that 60 percent of companies were planning to hire.

Like the Duke-CFO survey, however, the AICPA report found a drop in optimism about economic growth. Its overall CPA Outlook Index declined by two points to 67 on a scale of 0-100 with 50 considered neutral. The index dropped for the first time after two quarters of growth.

“What we're seeing is the same ‘two steps forward, one step back’ cycle we encountered last year,” said Arleen Thomas, the AICPA’s senior vice president for management accounting. “There's no question survey takers have grown more pessimistic about the U.S. economy, and with expectations muted for profit, revenue and employment growth, there appear to be few catalysts to change that view.”

With U.S. unemployment rate at 8.2 percent, there appears little chance of much improvement in the jobs situation, according to the AICPA. The Duke-CFO Magazine survey found the jobless rate could decline to 7 percent over the next year, based on what CFOs said about hiring plans.

However, the AICPA found that only 12 percent of firms were planning to hire, down from 14 percent the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, the number of firms planning layoffs increased to 10 percent from 7 percent.

Open jobs don't match skills of available workers

A problem for those companies wanting to hire is finding qualified workers. Half those wanting to add employees said they were "having trouble" finding candidates with the right skills.

The lack of desire to hire can be linked to optimism – or lack thereof – about the economy. Only 34 percent of those surveyed are optimistic about what's happening in the U.S., down 9 percent from the last quarter. More than half do have a positive outlook for their own firms.

While executives in only two business sectors – health care and construction – were more positive about the future than in the last survey, 61 percent said they do plan to expand this coming year. That is unchanged from the previous survey.

Bigger businesses are a bit less optimistic with 62 percent of companies of $1 billion or more in sales planning to expand, down from 65 percent. That's the first drop in the survey since the first quarter of 20120.

Top financial concerns included:

1. Domestic economy

2. Regulatory requirements and changes

3. Employee and benefit costs

4. Domestic political leadership

The survey was conducted between May 16-31 and included 1,250 executives.

For more about the report, read here.


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  • davidgnews Jun 7, 2012

    "Have put in 150 resumes in the last 2 months and no bites yet. "

    If you're in your 50s it's called age discrimination.

    A lot of jobs get posted just to be 'legal.' In many companies, they already know who they're going to either hire or promote from the inside, but have to post the job per gov't regulation.

  • warbirdlover Jun 7, 2012

    If you really want to know who is at fault look in the mirror. We are the ones whom keep electing these political hacks year after year. We need some new blood in DC to have young fresh ideas. The old timers get complacent and really only care about fatting their own wallet. This is true for both parties. We need moderates on both sides to make compromises, not extremist who only want " My Way Or No Way" politics. I myself am no President Obama Cheerleader. But I don't think Mitt Romney is much different. If he is the best the GOP Could fold it looks like your party is dying a slow death. Where aware the real leaders hiding.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Jun 7, 2012

    Praying for us all. We're all going to need it because we haven't seen the bottom of this mess even yet.

    The government toys with us with numbers and figures and statistics, but all a smart person has to do is look at the growing welfare enrollees to get a clue as to what's going on.

    Look at the bottom of the pile for real answers, not the top.

    Those who can't find jobs go on unemployment, and if they can't or can no longer get that and still can't find work, they have no choice but to go on welfare and food stamps.

  • SmokeWagon Jun 7, 2012

    LOL@daliberalsheep....!!! WHERE warned...I will see YOU at the polls...!!!!

  • SmokeWagon Jun 7, 2012

    ...."Because we do not watch Faux News...."

    Well then how do you know their reporting is "faux" then...????? Seems, by your own admission, you are posting about something you know absolutely nothing about...!!!!

  • casp3r Jun 7, 2012

    Look at the two california cities that voted to take away benefits for gov workers..

    CALI is even turning on the unions and lavish gov workers...

    Major losses for the left this last month :) weeeeeee this is fun

  • casp3r Jun 7, 2012


    These libs admit the msm is biased every day and don't realize it..
    They attack everything and anything that they disagree with but when they talk about news it is always only fox news or the wall st journal. They never mention any of the other papers or news outlets because they know they are all liberal. Lol

  • Crumps Br0ther Jun 7, 2012

    P.S. the Potus actually came out ahead in the exit polls in Wisc. over Ro-money

    Im going to wager a lot of the "silent majority" didnt answer the poll as they were leaving the polls. So any polls can be skewed, unless they tell you what they want to hear, then they are correct.

  • howdiditgettothis Jun 7, 2012

    I could care less about what "corporate financial executives" THINK.

    How about cutting their salaries for a change? As long as they get theirs, the rest of the country is SOOL.

  • Return of Finz Jun 7, 2012

    "You guys keep clinging to polls, ill keep talking about the votes counted. I know it is hard to believe but it is easy to lie in a poll, you speak the truth thru your vote :)"

    Absolutely.....Votes count. 2010 midterms, this past Tuesday in Wisconsin and just last month here at home. I see a trend!