Finance execs' optimism about economy falters

The latest quarterly survey of chief financial officers, controllers and accountants reports a drop from the first quarter of this year due to inflation and lagging demand. Fewer companies are planning to hire workers.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Mix rising inflation with lagging job growth, consumer demand and health care costs and the result is a dimmer view of the economy.

In fact, financial executives are “far less optimistic” about the state of the U.S. economy than they were to start the year, according to a new survey from an accounting organization.

The percentage of optimistic execs fell to 33 percent from 48 percent the previous quarter, while pessimism grew to 27 percent, up nine percentage points.

Top concern for the execs is inflation at 61 percent, up 6 percentage points

The overall index as compiled by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants fell three points from the first quarter.

“The flush of optimism we experienced earlier this year has given way to more moderate expectations for the U.S. economy,” said Carol Scott, AICPA vice president for business, industry and government, in a statement. “While the CPA Outlook Index is still positive relative to the dark days of the recession, our members are concerned about rising energy costs and inflation, health care costs and continuing weakness in demand.”

On the jobs front, only 12 percent of firms have plans to increase headcount. The total was 13 percent the previous quarter.

The survey noted that 21 percent of companies said they had too few workers but were reluctant to hire.

Most firms don’t foresee a return to pre-recession employment levels.

Finance execs do see growth in the information technology sector where hiring is expected to increase.

Due to rising healthcare costs, 40 percent of the execs in the survey said their companies planned to increase employee costs.

Capital spending expectations remain stable.

The accounting group works with UNC-Chapel Hill in conducting the survey.



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