NEW YORK - According to the third-quarter American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) Economic Outlook Survey, business executives have upgraded expectations for profit and revenue growth over the next 12 months, and has revealed the growing scarcity of suitable job candidates.
 
Up from No. 2 in the last quarter, availability of skilled personnel was cited as the top challenge facing companies with 21 percent of respondents reporting a significant increase in hiring competition. This is up from 16 percent the last time this survey question was asked at the end of 2014.
 
"One out of five business executives say their company has lost out on top job candidates because of increased competition, and a majority say they’re having trouble finding the right candidate to begin with," said Arleen R. Thomas, CPA, CGMA, managing director of Americas Market, Global Offerings & CGMA Exam, management accounting for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. "For some companies, the scarcity of skilled workers could have an impact on productivity and growth over time."
 
Despite recruiting challenges, half of business executives said their companies had the right number of employees. Nearly 24 percent said they planned to hire immediately while another 15 percent said they had too few employees, but were hesitant to hire. Business executives who said their companies had too many employees dropped from eight percent to seven percent, quarter over quarter.
 
Reflecting the results of last quarter, 64 percent of business executives said they were optimistic about the 12-month prospects for the U.S. economy, expecting a revenue growth of 4.3 percent with profits expected to grow 3.5 percent.
 
The CPA Outlook Index - a composite of nine, equally weighted survey measures set on a scale of 0 to 100 to gauge executive sentiment within the AICPA survey - rose two points in the third quarter to 77.
 
Other key findings of the survey show that IT remains the strongest category for planned spending over the coming year, with an expected growth rate of 3.5 percent.
 
With an overall margin of error of less than three percentage points, the third-quarter AICPA Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey was conducted Aug. 1-16, 2017, and included 775 qualified responses from CPAs who hold leadership positions in their companies.