Accounting and Finance JobsThe slow climb back from the recession is showing signs of gaining traction.

According to the AICPA Economic Outlook Survey, a majority of senior accounting professionals see an improving economy as reason to predict an increase in new hires, employee training and targeted spending over the next year.

The survey is done quarterly by the American Institute of CPAs to track future hiring trends and levels of economic optimism. The results were based on responses from 867 Certified Public Accountants, chief financial officers, controllers and other executives in the financial industry. It was taken Feb. 11-26.

Hiring prospects are looking somewhat rosier. While 56 percent of the people surveyed said they had no plans to hire, 15 percent of managers planned to hire immediately, a 2 percent increase over last quarter’s survey.

Feelings about job security also improved. Those who said they felt their organizations had the right number of employees rose from 8 percent to 10 percent.

Among those with hiring plans, 75 percent said they would fill full-time positions. Two percent of those with hiring plans to hire said they would fill part-time or temporary positions.

Arleen R. Thomas, V.P. of management accounting and global markets for the AICPA, says the organization sees more potential for business expansions than they have in the last three years.

“We’re seeing signs that businesses are thinking more concretely about resources they’ll need in place, from expanded staffing to investments in technology and other capital projects, to handle future growth,” Thomas said.

About 49 percent of executives expressed optimism about the U.S. economy, an 11 percent increase from last quarter. Improvements in employment, consumer spending and the country’s political leadership were given as reasons. Optimism also increased two percent over last quarter among respondent’s own companies, with 59 percent feeling positive this quarter.

Concerns about the country’s political leadership and the Affordable Care Act were most often cited as reasons for respondents who felt pessimistic about the economy.

Increases in regulatory controls, employees and related benefit costs and the domestic economy were the top three challenges of year to come, according to the survey. Finding skilled job candidates was the fourth most cited challenge, up from a sixth place ranking last quarter.

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