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Press Release

Tri-state CPAs Pinpoint Drags on U.S. Economy

By:
Alonza Robertson, NYSSCPA Media Relations Manager
Published Date:
Dec 5, 2013

NEW YORK – (December 5, 2013)  Reducing high unemployment rates, curbing entitlement spending, and reforming burdensome federal regulations are ways to resuscitate the U.S. economy, say senior executive CPAs in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to a new survey.

Almost half of all the respondents – who primarily were CEOs, CFOs, accounting firm partners and other industry leaders residing in the three states surveyed – say economic conditions in the U.S. will likely be the same one year from now; and while they predict increases in their own business revenues they are expecting little change in the U.S. workforce.

The survey was sponsored by the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA), the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA). The survey was conducted this past September and October by Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Opinion Research.

“CPAs have identified several key issues that are preventing a jumpstart in the economy,” said Joanne S. Barry, executive director of the NYSSCPA. “As business leaders in their communities, CPAs are on the front lines in terms of spotting and reacting to economic trends.”

Key survey findings include the following:

  • When CPAs were asked to rate the red tape in state and local governments, New York fared the worst with 59 percent indicating it was worse than ever followed by Pennsylvania (42 percent) and New Jersey (39 percent).
  • A majority of CPAs polled in all three states said employees are considering delaying retirement, with more than 70 percent of respondents noting that the struggling economy was the biggest factor in making the decision to delay retirement.
  • More than 90 percent of the CPAs said the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is prompting them to re-evaluate their current insurance packages; and a majority of those said they are postponing hiring decisions and increasing the number of part-time employees.

 
The growth of pension funding and entitlement spending – for health care, disability, and unemployment compensation – coupled with a sharp decline in the number of working adults has stalled economic growth, the CPAs assessed.

In New York State, three in five CPAs believe their state government red tape is worse than ever. Nearly half of the CPAs polled (48 percent) believe additional casinos in upstate New York will have a positive or very positive impact on the economy. Attitudes were split about the benefit of tax-free zones surrounding state university campuses, with 42 percent expecting a positive impact and 41 percent saying there will be no impact on the state’s economy.

Only three in 10 (28 percent) New Jersey CPAs believe the business climate in the state is excellent or good, and a majority (58 percent) believe the state’s business climate hinders economic growth. More than half (56 percent) of the state’s CPAs, however, say there has been noticeable improvement in the state’s business climate since Gov. Chris Christie took office in January 2009. The New Jersey CPAs are in relative agreement that reducing property tax rates (39 percent of those surveyed) and reforming state government pensions and benefits (36 percent) would improve economic expansion in the state.

“Overall, the numbers are going in the right direction, but it’s a daily battle,” said Ralph Albert Thomas, NJSCPA CEO and executive director. “Our hope is that the federal and state governments will do their best to mitigate risk and uncertainty and continue to reach out to business groups – such as CPA societies – for feedback when considering pro-business policies.

Nearly half (48 percent) of Pennsylvania CPAs rank rising health care costs and pension funding for public employees as the top two state issues that will hinder future economic growth in Pennsylvania. Significantly more CPAs in Pennsylvania (23 percent) feel that the tax structure in their state is better than in most other states when compared to CPAs in New York (4 percent) and New Jersey (2 percent).

“CPAs have unique insight into the business community through their work in public accounting serving multiple clients and in industry where they work with other C-suite executives,” says Michael D. Colgan, PICPA’s CEO and executive director. “This survey shows that our members are projecting growth in revenues in the coming year, which should translate into continued growth across multiple sectors of the (state) economy.”

 

The Report and Accompanying Graphics

The Full Report

Graphic 1: Hindrance to Growth

Graphic 2: Red Tape

Graphic 3: Tax Structure

Graphic 4: Workforce Expectations

 

About the Organizations

  • Incorporated in 1897, the NYSSCPA, www.nysscpa.org, is one of the largest state accounting organization in the U.S. with more than 29,000 members.
  • With a membership of more than 15,000, the NJSCPA, http://www.njscpa.org/, is the largest professional organization serving the needs of Garden State CPAs. 
  • Founded in 1897, PICPA, www.picpa.org, has more than 20,000 members and is Pennsylvania’s premiere professional organization for CPAs.