Economy / Management accounting

A CPA decision-maker at a Midwest trucking company pretty much typifies the outlook of many others on the nation’s economy and their businesses: The business is buoyed by lower fuel costs and increasing demand, but a driver shortage is keeping it from being able to haul every load a customer wants.

That sentiment sums up key themes found in a new survey by the AICPA: The view is generally positive, but there is rising concern about the availability of skilled personnel.
The fourth-quarter Business & Industry Economic Outlook, available at, shows gains across all nine indicators in the CPA Outlook Index (CPAOI). U.S. economic optimism, one of the indicators, is up 22 points from a year ago to 78. Projections for profits (up 10 points since the fourth quarter of 2013) and employment (up nine points) also show widespread optimism, helping the overall CPAOI hit 78. A reading above 50 indicates a generally positive outlook.

Regulation, including implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, P.L. 111-148, continues to be the top obstacle for businesses, according to the survey of 830 finance executives. Just behind regulation is concern about the availability of skilled personnel, a concern that was rated sixth on a list in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Finding good workers is a concern at Melton Truck Lines in Tulsa, Okla., where Melissa Ruby, CPA, is the controller. She said that 10% of Melton’s trucks are unused because the company is having a hard time finding and keeping drivers.

“We don’t have a truck for every call that we get,” Ruby said. “We don’t have somebody that can go and pick up that load. Obviously, there’s a lot of opportunity cost when you’ve got those trucks parked against the fence.”


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