The volatility and recent struggles of the U.S. economy haven't gone unnoticed, and business executives have voiced concerns.
Those concerns were evident in the American Institute of CPAs' first quarter Economic Outlook Survey, which polls CEOs, CFOs and other controllers or certified public accounts in management roles.
In the poll, 28% of respondents identify as “optimistic” or “very optimistic,” in regard to the economy, according to a statement. That's a 17-percentage-point drop over the fourth quarter of 2015 and a 40-percentage point drop over the first quarter of last year.
On the other end of the spectrum, 34% of respondents say they were “pessimistic” or “very pessimistic,” about the economy, the highest ratio since 2012. The remaining respondents say they are neutral.
Expectations, as a result of those concerns, are lower for the next 12 months. Revenues are expected to increase 1.7%, the statement says, less than half the anticipated rate from a year ago.
“For the first time since early 2013, domestic economic conditions have replaced regulatory concerns as the top perceived challenge for business executives,” says Valerie Rainey, chairwoman of AICPA's business and industry executive committee, in the statement. “Survey takers say they're worried about slow growth, stock market volatility, the impact of low oil and commodity prices and upheaval in the global economy.”
Other key findings of the survey include a renewed softness in hiring outlook, less robust expansion plans and a rising concern of deflation. The survey was conducted between Feb. 9 and Feb. 24. It included qualified responses from 540 executives and business leaders.