Today’s The CFO Survey for the first quarter of 2023 reveals that the optimism of US chief financial officers has inched up, but labor availability and inflation remain their two most pressing concerns. On a 0-100 scale, CFOs optimism about the economy increased to 55, a slight gain on the previous quarter, but still below 60 – its long-term average.

For real GDP growth, respondents now expect 1.4% over the next four quarters, a marked improvement from the 0.7% projected in the previous survey. This positive outlook is tempered however, by a confluence of challenges that include a historically tight labor market, persistent pricing pressures, plus tighter monetary policy.

As for business spending, the survey uncovered that 23% of firms decreased expenditure in the past three months, a 5 percentage point jump from the preceding quarter and twice the rate of the same period last year.

Overall, while it’s encouraging to see that US CFOs optimism has risen, the survey shows that challenges over labor availability and rising inflation remain.