Business executives are more willing to hire in the coming year than previously suggested, according to a survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

The AICPA’s economic outlook survey for the third quarter of 2013 was conducted among chief executives and financial officers and other certified public accountants (CPA) that hold senior management accounting roles.

According to the survey about 15% of respondents believed they had too few employees and expect to hire in the next year, up 3% from than last quarter and 6% higher than 12 months ago. Some 19% respondents said they had too few employees although they were unwilling to hire.

A measure of executive sentiment, the CPA outlook index, remained at 69 points, the same level recorded last quarter. A score over 50 suggests optimism while a figure under 50 suggests pessimism, according to AICPA.

The index is composed of nine equally weighted measures, each ranging from 0 to 100.

One of them is the US economic optimism which dropped 4 points, partly due to US healthcare reforms and political paralysis, while organizational optimism slid 1 point after continuous increase in the past 3 quarters, AICPA reported.

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By GlobalData

The 5% rise in the expansion plans measure compared to a year ago indicated firms are increasingly considering expansion, the survey found.

All measures of the CPA Outlook Index were higher than they were 12 months ago, in particular the US economic optimism measure which was 21 points above its position.

The survey also found profit and revenue expectations have continued to increase moderately, with the biggest growth expected in the construction, technology, and professional services sectors.

Around 35% of respondents were worried about inflation over the next 6 months, up 5% from the previous quarter, but only 7% of respondents were worried about deflation.

Labour costs were a major concern as 31% respondents believed they would be an issue, up from 28% in the previous quarter.

Interest rates were also found to be concerning, with 26% agreeing they posed a threat to business compared to 21% in the second quarter.

AICPA senior vice president of management accounting and global markets Arleen Thomas said the survey showed expectations on hiring and business expansion but also "some renewed concern about prospects for the US economy".

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The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants