Stat Corner

CPA Outlook Index Survey 1Q 2016

The CPA Outlook Index—a comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the AICPA survey— has fallen to its lowest level in more than three years.  Some 28 percent of survey respondents identified themselves as “optimistic” or “very optimistic” about prospects for the U.S. economy over the next 12 months, down 17 percentage points from last quarter and 40 percentage points from a year ago. The index is a composite of nine, equally weighted survey measures set on a scale of 0 to 100, with 50 considered neutral and greater numbers signifying positive sentiment.

CPA Outlook Index Graph

Other key findings of the survey:

  • Renewed softness in hiring outlook. Some 15 percent of business executives said their companies are looking to hire immediately, a drop of three percentage points from last quarter. Overall, 53 percent of respondents said their companies had the right amount of staffing, the same as last quarter. Projected headcount expansion has fallen to 0.5 percent for the coming year, down from a post-recession high of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.
  • Survey takers have dimmer view of their own companies’ prospects. Optimism about business executives’ own organizations fell below 50 percent for first time since end of 2012.  Some 44 percent now identify themselves as optimistic, down nine percentage points from a year ago.
  • Less robust expansion plans. Some 52 percent of business executives said they expected their companies to expand in the next 12 months, the lowest amount since the end of 2012. For the largest companies – those with more than $1 billion in annual revenue – expansion plans fell from 59 percent last quarter to 49 percent.
  •  Different takes from different places. Business executives in the West are most optimistic (55 percent) about their region, while those from the South are least optimistic (38 percent).
  • Volatile industry outlooks. Construction is expected to have the brightest prospects in the coming year (with 59 percent of executives expressing optimism this quarter), followed by technology (53 percent) and real estate (52 percent). Optimism about finance and insurance continued its slide, however, and the category is now one of the lowest ranked sectors at 41 percent. The least optimistic sector, retail trade, saw a turnaround in the past quarter and now stands at 39 percent, up 11 percentage points from the end of 2015.
  • Deflation is a rising concern. Some 22 percent of executives listed it as a potential issue, double the amount from last quarter. Inflation concerns, meanwhile, fell nine percentage points to 14 percent, quarter over quarter.
    To speak to a member of the Business and Industry Executive Committee, contact Mitchell Slepian at 212-596-6177 or mslepian@aicpa.org

Hot Topics

Accounting Enrollments Reach an All-Time High

Enrollments in undergraduate and graduate accounting programs have increased in the 2013-14 academic year, and have combined to cross the 250,000 threshold for the first time. On the recruiting side, accounting firms hired a record number of accounting graduates in 2014, representing a seven percent increase from the previous survey. The report found optimism from both universities and firms that the growth of the accounting profession will continue.
FRF for SMEs Accounting Framework Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services (SSARS) No. 21

Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services (SSARS) No. 21 represents the efforts of the Accounting and Review Services Committee (ARSC) of the AICPA to clarify and revise the standards for members in public practice who perform reviews, compilations, and engagements to prepare financial statements. It is effective for engagements on financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 2015 but early implementation is permitted.
Troy Lewis Testified before the House Small business Committee Chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee Testified Before the House Small Business Committee

Troy K. Lewis, CPA, CGMA, chair of the AICPA Tax Executive Committee, testified before the House Small Business Committee on July 22 and offered specific changes that would ease small business tax burdens and stressed to committee members that timely communication with the IRS is imperative to small business taxpayers and their tax preparers.

AICPA Insights Blog

Retrieving Data

AICPA TV 

Professional Issues Update (Part 1)
Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA
2015 Spring Council

Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, AICPA President & CEO takes members on a journey through the AICPA initiatives that are positioning the profession for the future, and describes some of the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

Professional Issues Update (Part 2)

More on AICPA TV

Media Relations Team

Gil Nielsen
Director - Media Relations (NY)
(212) 596-6008
gnielsen@aicpa.org
Contact Gil for general inquiries.

Jay Hyde
Director - Media Relations (DC)
(202) 434-9266
jhyde@aicpa.org
Contact Jay for inquiries related to auditing and advocacy (congressional and regulatory matters).

Shirley Twillman
Senior Manager - Media Relations
(202) 434-9220
stwillman@aicpa.org
Contact Shirley for inquiries related to tax issues.

James Schiavone
Senior Manager - Public Relations
(212) 596-6119
jschiavone@aicpa.org 
Contact James for inquiries related to the CPA Exam, accounting education and careers, personal financial planning and financial literacy.
Gary Davis
Senior Manager - Public Relations
(919) 402-4557
gdavis@aicpa.org
Contact Gary for general inquiries.

Mitchell Slepian
Manager - Media Relations
(212) 596-6177
mslepian@aicpa.org
Contact Mitchell for inquiries related to accounting issues.

Jeff May
Manager - Media Relations
(212) 596-6122
jmay@aicpa.org
Contact Jeff for inquiries related to CPA2Biz, and AICPA publications

Marc Eiger
Manager - Public Relations
(212) 596-6042
meiger@aicpa.org
Contact Marc for inquiries related to financial literacy and personal financial planning.

For all other media inquiries, any member of the team will be happy to assist you.
Copyright © 2006-2016 American Institute of CPAs.