CPA survey finds 3 out of 5 companies upbeat about the future

Fueled in part by growing confidence in the U.S. economy, more businesses are upbeat about their future than at any time since the onset of the recession, according to a new survey.

Fifty-nine percent of executives saw better times ahead for their companies in the first quarter, up from 57 percent in the first quarter and 41 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the latest survey of financial executives by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

Sixty-three percent of executives expect their companies to expand at least a little over the next 12 months.

The percentage of companies with immediate hiring plans rose to 15 percent in the first quarter, up from 13 percent in the fourth quarter.

“Business expansion expectations, while still tempered, are the highest they’ve been in three years,” Arleen R. Thomas, senior vice president at AICPA, said in a prepared statement. AICPA maintains a major presence in Durham.

Forty-nine percent of those surveyed are optimistic, or very optimistic, about the U.S. economy. That’s up from 38 percent last quarter.

AICPA surveys 867 CPAs who serve as chief financial officer, controller and other leading positions in their companies.