Business Executives Adopt More Favorable View on Hiring, AICPA Survey Finds
Limited Pool of Skilled Job Candidates Cited as Concern
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Business executives are more optimistic about a broad range of performance indicators for the coming year, which has led to a more favorable view on hiring, according to the third quarter AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, which polls chief executive officers, chief financial officers, controllers and other certified public accountants in U.S. companies who hold executive and senior management accounting roles.
“That may explain why the findings show an uptick in plans for spending on training and other workforce investments.”
A majority of survey takers (51 percent) said their companies or organizations have the right number of employees. But nearly one in five companies now say they expect to hire new staffers in the coming year, compared to 17 percent last quarter and 13 percent at the end of 2013. Another 18 percent said they had too few employees but were hesitant to hire because of economic uncertainty.
Finding job candidates with the right skills is becoming more difficult, however, many respondents said in comments. For the second straight quarter, “availability of skilled personnel” was cited as the No. 3 top challenge for businesses, behind “regulatory requirements and changes” (No. 1) and “domestic economic conditions” (No. 2).
“AICPA’s survey results echo a key concern for businesses, which is the mismatch between open staff positions and the pool of qualified candidates available to fill them,” said Valerie Rainey, CPA, CGMA, and vice chair of the AICPA’s Business and Industry Executive Committee. “That may explain why the findings show an uptick in plans for spending on training and other workforce investments.”
Rainey is CFO and senior vice president of corporate development and finance for INTTRA, the world’s largest multicarrier e-commerce network for ocean shipping based in Parsippany, N.J.
The AICPA survey is a forward-looking indicator that tracks hiring and business-related expectations for the next 12 months. As a point of comparison, the U.S. Department of Labor’s August employment report, scheduled to be released tomorrow, looks back on the previous month’s hiring trends.
The CPA Outlook Index—a comprehensive gauge of executive sentiment within the AICPA survey— rose two points in the third quarter to 74, a post-recession high. 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.
Every category of the index rose both quarter over quarter and year over year. The largest increases in the past quarter had to do with three key performance indicators – expected profit, revenue and employment growth, which all rose 5 points.
Among other findings of the survey:
- Headcount is now expected to increase by 1.8 percent over the next year, an improvement over the 1.3 percent growth expectation last quarter. More than 22 percent of companies said they planned to increase their number of employees by 4 percent or more. Less than four percent said they planned to decrease payroll by that amount.
- Anticipated growth in spending on training over the next year edged up from 1.8 percent last quarter to 2 percent, its highest level since the recession.
- For the second straight quarter, a majority of business executives (52 percent) expressed optimism about the U.S. economy for the coming year. Survey takers were also more favorable about prospects for their own companies (65 percent expressed optimism, up four percentage points from last quarter).
- The most optimistic sector for the coming year is professional, scientific and technical services, while healthcare providers are the most pessimistic. Technology, one of the most upbeat sectors in recent years, fell sharply in optimism in the past quarter. Hiring expectations for tech still outpace the average for the coming year, however.
The third quarter AICPA Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey was conducted Aug. 6-26, 2014, and included 1,110 qualified responses from CPAs who hold leadership positions, such as chief financial officer or controller, in their companies. The overall margin of error is less than 3 percentage points. A copy of the report can be found on aicpa.org.
About the AICPA
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, with more than 400,000 members in 128 countries, and a history of serving the public interest since 1877. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting.
The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination, and offers specialty credentials for CPAs who concentrate on personal financial planning; forensic accounting; business valuation; and information management and technology assurance. Through a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), it has established the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation which sets a new standard for global recognition of management accounting.
The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, and Ewing, NJ.
Media representatives are invited to visit the AICPA Press Center at aicpa.org/press.