Stat Corner

CPA Outlook Index Survey

2Q 2016 CPA Outlook Index Survey 2Q 2016 The CPA Outlook Index—a comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the AICPA survey— rose five points in the second quarter to 68, but still remains well below a post-recession high of 78 set in the fourth quarter of 2014. 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. All categories of the index either rose or were unchanged since last quarter, but are below what they were a year ago.

Other key findings of the survey:

  • Another upbeat signal on staffing. The projected headcount increase for the next 12 months rose to 1.1 percent from 0.5 percent last quarter. Business executives have some concern about the talent pool, however – “availability of skilled personnel” rose two spots to the No. 3 top challenge for businesses in the quarter.
  • Survey takers have a stronger view of their own companies’ prospects. In the first quarter, optimism about business executives’ own organizations fell below 50 percent for first time since the end of 2012. This quarter, that category rebounded smartly, increasing nine percentage points to 53 percent.
  • A more expansive view of expansion plans. Some 58 percent of business executives said they expect their companies to expand in the next 12 months, up six percentage points from last quarter.
  • Spending priorities. Technology continues to be the strongest category for anticipated spending growth, climbing 0.3 percentage points from last quarter to 2.6 percent. Other capital spending also rose to 2.1 percent from 1.5 percent, quarter over quarter
  • Deflation recedes as a concern. In a reversal from last quarter, inflation is once again a bigger concern than deflation. Some 23 percent of executives listed it as a potential issue, compared to 12 percent for deflation. Raw material costs, followed by labor costs, are the biggest component of anticipated inflationary pressures.

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