DURHAM – Excitement about the economy is cooling off, especially in the tech sector, with concerns growing about trade, hiring in a tight labor market and politics, according to a new survey of financial executives from the Association of International Certified Public Accountants.

A key factor in driving down optimism comes from the tech sector.

“Technology showed surprising weakness in sector optimism, dropping from 80 percent last quarter to 69 percent,” the survey found.

“Hiring expectations for the industry also fell from 2.5 percent anticipated growth over the next 12 months to 2.1 percent. Yet tech spending plans remained strong.”

In North Carolina, demand for tech talent remains high with some 20,000 open positions.

Overall, execs in the survey remain very excited about the performance of their own companies, and overall enthusiasm remains close to post-2008 “Great Recession” highs, AICPA reported Thursday in its latest quarterly report.

More companies also are planning to add jobs, the survey, which is one of the more closely watched economic forecasts along with a similar quarterly report published by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

‘Strong hiring picture’

“Despite their more tempered views on growth, business executives still see a strong hiring picture over the next year,” said Arleen Thomas, the managing director of Americas Market. “Labor market tightness continues to be a concern, with companies encountering difficulty in recruiting candidates with the right skills.”

The new survey focuses over expectations of economy performance in coming months, and its release comes a day after the federal government lowered slightly its measure of GDP growth in the first quarter to 2.2 percent from 2.3 percent.

According to the survey, 74 percent of executives are optimistic about the economy’s performance over the next eyar. That’s down 5 percentage points from the previous survey.

Countering that, enthusiasm about their own companies only fell by one point to 70 percent.

Even with the national unemployment rate at under 4 percent and the ability to attract talent growing more difficult, 30 percent of executives said they are planning to increase hiring. That’s up three percentage points to 30 percent.

The overall index score for the survey slipped two points to 79 out of 100.

AICPA operates one of its offices in Durham.